Governor Pattonís Remarks
Cleanup Kentucky
January 25, 2001
 

Itís been a pleasure and a rare privilege to have served as the Governor of Kentucky these past five years.  Iíve gotten to travel the globe and see places I would never have gotten to see, experience pleasures I would never have gotten to experience, and meet people I would never have gotten to meet Ė and the most common response IĎve received when Iíve said, ďIím Paul Patton, Governor of Kentucky,Ē has been ďooh, Kentucky!  Itís such a beautiful state.Ē  And theyíre right.  Kentucky is a beautiful state.  Itís green; itís mountains; itís bluegrass; itís Mississippi Delta; itís metropolitan; itís water; itís farmland; itís beautiful.  At least most of it is.  99 percent of it is.  No, 99.99 percent of Kentucky is beautiful, clean, healthy, something we can be proud of.  Iím here today to talk about that one hundredth of one percent of Kentucky that spoils the other 99.99 percent of the state we love.

Iím talking about the approximately thirty-three hundred illegal garbage dumps that despoil our state; the unsightly litter that exists on every road in the Commonwealth; the approximately one hundred old landfills that have not yet been properly and safely closed and will need extensive clean-up work.

Iíve asked you to join me here today to see firsthand a sight that countless Kentuckians unnecessarily must drive by and live with every day in every one of our counties.  These dumps are not just unsightly; theyíre unhealthy; they harbor disease; they nourish rats, dogs, wild animals that mix with our domestic animals and carry filth and disease into our communities and homes.  And they hurt our economy.  They discourage tourism.  They could prevent companies from locating in Kentucky.  They give the impression that we have no pride in our Commonwealth.  And I know of no other condition that could do more to discourage our efforts to participate in the ďNew EconomyĒ than somebody elseís garbage greeting a ďNew EconomyĒ entrepreneur.  In this age when many of the people we want to attract can work where they want to live rather than have to live where they want to work, quality of life; a clean environment, is even more important.  With 3,000 dumps like this in Kentucky, weíve got a problem.  If our people were fully aware of the danger these dumps present to them in their homes and their communities they would rise up in revolt until we did something about it. 

Ten years ago, in a special session called by Governor Wilkinson to address the issue of solid waste, we made a commitment to a clean Kentucky.  Weíve made a lot of progress.  The landfills weíre using today protect our environment and our people.  Twenty-five counties have enacted universal solid waste collection programs.  Eighty percent of our people have curbside solid waste collection services available to them.  Half or maybe even three-fourths of the rest of our people make that extra effort to dispose of their garbage the right way.  Itís that other 5 percent of our people that are too busy or too inconvenienced or simply donít care that cause the illegal dumps and unsightly litter that makes Kentucky less beautiful, less enjoyable, less healthy than it can be.  Itís that 5 percent that we have to get to.

Some time ago, I asked Secretary Bickford to develop a comprehensive program to cleanup Kentucky and keep it clean.  The Secretary and his people have developed such a program which Iím convinced will, in 10 years, create a clean, healthy Kentucky and develop in our people, especially our young people, a commitment to keep it clean and healthy.

To accomplish our long-term goal of creating in the minds of our people the commitment to a clean Kentucky, they proposed a consistent, effective, comprehensive statewide public information and education program aimed particularly at our children.  This program would cost about 3 million dollars a year and be administered by the state.

They also proposed a 4 million dollar a year statewide roadside litter cleanup program funded by the state and operated by the counties.  This money would be distributed to the counties, one-half based on population, one-half based on road miles.  The state Transportation Cabinet will continue to spend about 4 million dollars a year cleaning up major state roads.

Eleven million dollars would be provided to counties based on population to assist them with recycling programs.

Three million dollars would be provided to counties based on population to cleanup illegal dumps.  When all the county dumps are cleaned up the money could be used at the countyís discretion.

2.9 additional million dollars would be distributed by the cabinet to counties that have extraordinary problems with illegal dumps.  When all illegal dumps in the state are cleaned up this money will be sent to the counties based on population.

3.8 million dollars would be used to begin the process of properly closing old municipal landfills, distributed by the cabinet according to need.  The first step will be to do extensive evaluations to determine the magnitude of the problem and develop a comprehensive program to eliminate it.

The cabinet would take over the current automobile and machinery recyclers regulation program now administered by the Transportation Cabinet and enhance it.  The cost would be about 400,000 dollars.

The administration of all these programs would cost about one and a half million dollars.  The overall cost would be about 30 million dollars.

The keystone of all this effort has to be an effective user-financed universal curbside solid waste collection program administered by each county.  Twenty-five counties are already doing it.  The other 95 can and should do the same.

As a user-financed program, there will be no direct cost to the counties and little administrative cost to the state.

I commend General Bickford and his staff for their outstanding work and Iím committed to advancing the entire plan.  However, Iíve received a very strong message from the leadership of both houses of the legislature that they donít view this session as a time to increase or decrease revenue or to address budget issues.  While this position is not embraced by all of the legislative leadership, at this time it is shared by the majority of leadership.  In trying to maintain a mutually cooperative relationship with the legislative leadership, I will not be proposing a revenue measure at this time.  As you know, Representative Stumbo has proposed a revenue measure to fund a program very much like our proposal.  I am not opposing Representative Stumboís proposal, Iím just honoring my commitment to leadership to not address revenue or budgetary matters in this session.  While our total program is something we canít afford right now, itís something we canít afford not to do over the long run. 

Iíve brought you to this particular site to illustrate the problem.  This is the site that Speaker Richards and I helped cleanup almost 2 years ago.  Look at it now.  This site is actually located in a county that offers universal garbage collection but borders a county that does not.  I doubt if a Franklin County citizen did this because their solid waste service is paid for with their tax money.  It was most likely thrown here by a citizen of another county passing through.  This site is a perfect example of two things:  (1) how our neighborsí actions impact our lives and (2) why the first priority of any program to create a clean Kentucky must be a universal solid waste collection program implemented statewide to stop the illegal dumping on our land. 

The one element of the Generalís proposal that can be done and, because of the long implementation time, needs to be done right now is the universal curbside solid waste collection program.  Itíll take up to 2 years to get this program operational statewide and until we stop people from using illegal garbage dumps, itís a losing battle to clean them up.

And so until we get the money to fully implement the Secretaryís comprehensive proposal, I call on the General Assembly to enact the universal curbside solid waste collection portion because itís the part that has to be done first. 

Weíve worked as long and as hard and as conscientiously as we know how to develop an effective program that would have broad support with the public and the members of the General Assembly.  We havenít gotten there yet.  After extensive consultation with the leaders of both parties and both houses, our proposal is viewed by some as too much, by some as too little, and others are waiting to see more detail.   

I have waited to get consensus as long as I can.  I must now take my case to the citizens of Kentucky.  I ask those who want a clean Kentucky, and who know that if weíre going to have it, weíve got to pay for it, to get involved.  Organize your community.  Call your legislators.  Come to Frankfort.  Give all of us who want this program the support we need to make the right decision.  Now is the time.

I want to re-emphasize that I support the entire program and I think the cost is reasonable, 8 dollars a year, 63 cents a month, a little more than 2 cents per day per Kentuckian.   While some of the program will have to wait, the prerequisite, the part that has to happen and happen first, universal curbside collection can, should and must start now. A cleaner Kentucky means a healthier Kentucky.  It means more tourists, and it means more businesses will want to locate and create jobs here.  I call Kentuckians to arms.  I call for action.  I call all of us to fight for a clean Kentucky.  I ask the Kentucky General Assembly to enact this proposed legislation this session.