Kentucky's Phil Moffett: Take on the Public Unions

Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011 12:10 PM

By Dan Weil and Ashley Martella

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Phil Moffett, a tea-party-backed Republican candidate for governor in Kentucky, says the state must take on public unions to pare its $7 billion debt. The first thing that must be done is to convert public pensions from defined benefits to defined contributions, so they resemble 401(k) and IRA plans in the private sector, he tells Newsmax.TV.

“After that, we need to make common-sense decisions on how to buy out” the $30 billion-plus underfunded state pension plan. “Stop spending beyond your means. It’s very basic stuff,” says the managing partner of CCS Partners, a Louisville telecommunications management firm Moffett founded nine years ago.

“I’m not against unions per se, but I’m against public unions,” he says. “Our public employees unions make more than the private sector and have massive benefits programs. It’s totally upside down.” Kentucky needs to go after the public unions just like GOP Gov. Chris Christie is doing in New Jersey, Moffett says.

He’s adamant that Uncle Sam shouldn’t bail out states. “The federal government is part of the reason we are in this position,” Moffett says. “All these programs they force on us require state legislatures to spend more money that they don’t have. We need the federal government out of the states.”

Kentucky needs tax simplification to attract businesses, he says. “We have 240 different state taxes, fees and surcharges. We want to strip that away and replace it with a single-rate consumer sales tax.” The states that have done so are the most prosperous, such as Florida, Tennessee, and Texas, Moffett says.

He’s thrilled about the efforts of various state attorneys general to overturn Obamacare. “I just wish Kentucky was part of it.” It will be if Moffett is elected governor, he pledges.

Moffett initiated Kentucky’s only private school voucher program in 1998. Fixing public schools requires “putting accountability, discipline and competition into the system,” he says.

“Right now, no one can be held accountable for anything. I want superintendents to be accountable. We want them to be able to manage budgets, personnel and curriculum.”

At present, Kentucky students aren’t required to behave in class. “We need to give teachers and principals the dignity to kick chronically disruptive kids out of class and out of school, if necessary,” Moffett says.

“We also need to give parents public school choice. Kentucky is one of nine states that don’t have a charter school law. We need charter schools.”

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