ATLANTA -- Kentucky's new governor took office on Tuesday and named health care, education reform, economic development, and streamlining state government as his priorities.
Announcing his goals in a seven-minute inauguration address on the steps of the state Capitol, Gov. Brereton Jones also made a special point of letting the state General Assembly know he will make a special effort to work closely with them. Him predecessor, Wallace Wilkinson, often feuded with the legislators.
"You are equal partners with the judicial and executive branches of government and I will work closely with you in a spirit of cooperation," said Gov. Jones, a Democrat who has served as lieutenant governor for the last four years.
This "will give us a fighting chance," he continued, "to take a national leadership role in providing quality health care for all people ... to make the promise of education reform a reality ... to provide good jobs and good wages."
Elaborating on the inauguration speech, Bill Griffin, Gov. Jones's spokesman, yesterday said the new administration will also stress frugality: "As the governor puts out his ideas, he is mindful of the $155 million [fiscal 1992] deficit and will work to hold down expenses."
Last month, Mr. Wilkinson, the former governor, announced that state budget officials expected a $155 million revenue shortfall for fiscal 1992. On Monday, Mr. Wilkinson signed an administrative order that made budget cuts to head of the anticipated shortfall.
Gov. Jones also remains committed to issuing an additional $300 million in revenue bonds for roads in the state, Mr. Griffin said. The legislature must approve funding for debt service on the issue.
Mr. Griffin said the governor's efforts to cut government costs will initially focus on possible changes in the civil service system.
"Gov. Jones is going to look everywhere for savings, including the personnel system," he said. Gov. Jones, like his opponent in the November election, Larry Hopkins, promised not to raise taxes to balance the state budget.
Despite the state's fiscal problems, Mr. Griffin said Gov. Jones remains committed to implementing Kentucky's Education Reform Act, adopted by the General Assembly in 1990. During that session, lawmakers approved about $1 billion in new taxes to fund a massive overhaul of the school system.
The education reform package followed a ruling by the state high court in 1989 that declared Kentucky's schools unconstitutional because of funding inequities.
On Gov. Jones's health care initiative, Mr. Griffin said the governor will work to make medical services more widely available in Kentucky. "His idea is to come up with a network -- working with providers, insurers, and labor -- so more people can have health care protection," he said.
In the area of economic development, Gov. Jones will stress nurturing existing businesses, Mr. Griffin said. This contrasts with the former governor's emphasis on persuading large corporations to locate new facilities in the state.
Veteran legislator Joe Prather has been named the state's chief fiscal manager, and Lieut. Gov. Paul Patton has been tapped as secretary of the Economic Development Cabinet, he said.