The candidates for Kentucky’s 2nd District State Senate seat are at odds over the future of the affordable care act in the commonwealth.
Republican Danny Carroll and Democrat Jeff Parker debated for a half hour at the WKMS studios on subjects ranging from encouraging state economic growth, configuring tax incentive structures, reducing employment and their stances on nuclear power.
But both candidates took special attention to Kentucky's economic future paying for implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which the federal government is currently subsidizing.
Carroll says the state needs to reassess Medicaid expansion and vie for a more responsible healthcare plan by reducing costs.
“If hospitals continue to close as has been the case with the Affordable Care Act, we’re going to lose jobs, it’s plain and simple," said Carroll. "It sounds great to want to provide medical care to everyone to provide medical insurance, the reality of that is that there’s a price to be paid. We’re looking at a 10 billion dollar budget, and then you’re looking at a half a billion dollar increase. Look at the significance of that.”
But Parker says benefits of the ACA on jobs on the lives of Kentuckians will outweigh the costs.
“I’m not 110% that I agree with every part of it, but it has created jobs and it is an industry in itself so I’m not sure that any of us know the answer but I know that we gave a half million Kentuckians healthcare in the last year with 70,000 of them being children," said Parker. "I don’t think we can take that away from the people we gave that to. I think we have a moral obligation to keep our word and our bond. I think we figure out a way to pay for it.”
The candidates were asked what role tax incentives play in spurring Kentucky's economic growth. Carrol says Kentucky needs to join the list of states with Right to Work status in order to encourage businesses to move here.
"I think we should look at some deregulation in our state, they tie up our business and industry and a lot of the new industries coming in don't want to deal with that," said Carroll. "So we have to create the environment and as far as Right to Work, I've talked to many folks in economic development who feel that when they go out recruiting one of the first aspects of the state they look at is are we a Right to Work state and we aren't so we're automatically marked off the list. I'm not against unions, I believe there is a place for unions in our workforce and the protections that they provide however I'm worried about jobs for our people and we're at a place where we've got to take steps to get jobs to our state."
But Parker says Right to Work is not a factor in encouraging industry investment.
"I believe that tax incentives play a huge part but I'm not sure that we use our tax incentives in the best way," said Parker. "I would like to see us use tax incentives to better what we already have, to go to the plants in Calvert City, to go to the river services and ask them what we can do to add those good paying jobs. And Right to Work is not at the top of reasons of why we're not getting jobs. We dropped 3.6 percent in our unemployment rate better than Indiana, better than Tennessee. Those are Right to Work states, and we're not a Right to Work states."
The winner of the election succeeds outgoing State Senator Bob Leeper who is running for McCracken County Judge Executive as an independent.