Central Kentucky Chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth demands “People’s Budget”
Lexington, Ky. – The Central Kentucky Chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth has demanded a People’s Budget that reflects the values and priorities of all Lexingtonians, especially Black, Brown, poor, young, LGBTQ+, and disabled residents. In March, the group convened a diverse cross-section of Lexingtonians at a visioning session to discuss the priorities that they would like to see reflected in the 2023-2024 Lexington city budget. The group has a petition to sign and has asked that folks come out for public comment tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber at 200 E Main Street.
The proposed People’s Budget includes several demands that address the most pressing needs of the community. The first demand is for affordable housing, strengthened tenant protections, and homelessness prevention. According to a study, rental costs in Lexington increased by 8.6% in the past year. To address the housing crisis, the group is calling for a dedicated annual $10 million funding stream for the Affordable Housing Fund (AHF), with a significant portion of the AHF going toward housing that’s affordable for Lexingtonians who make less than 50% of area median income. The group is also advocating for a Lexington Tenants’ Bill of Rights, including a universal right to counsel in eviction court, a permanent rental assistance program, and a landlord registry. Lexington must also increase its investment in emergency housing for people experiencing homelessness and housing security for elderly and disabled Lexingtonians.
The second demand is for a proactive approach to community safety that addresses the root causes of violence by investing in systems that support healing rather than harm. The group believes that increasing police budgets and militarization has proven ineffective in addressing violence, disproportionately impacting and criminalizing Black communities and other communities of color in Lexington. The group is calling for investment in grassroots community organizations working on the ground in communities impacted by violence, alternatives to the police such as mental health specialists and social workers, and increased investment in the paramedicine program. The group also supports the implementation of a group violence intervention program and a full audit of the Lexington Police Department to root out corruption and ensure accountability.
The third demand is for better public transportation, sustainable infrastructure, and energy efficiency. The group believes that Lexington must address the climate crisis by investing in public transportation, sustainable infrastructure, and energy efficiency. The group is calling for additional budgetary resources for Lextran to improve the frequency and reliability of existing bus routes and expand the network to serve all of Fayette County. Lexington must also invest in building and preserving truly affordable housing in intown neighborhoods to reduce housing and transportation costs for Lexingtonians who don’t have a car. The group also advocates for the redesign of roads to be safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other people who don’t drive, especially dangerous roads at the epicenter of the pedestrian fatality crisis. Lexington must take full advantage of opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act to lessen the burden of utility costs, retrofit buildings to make them more energy-efficient, and expand the use of renewable energy like solar.
The final demand is for food security for all. The group believes that access to fresh, healthy, affordable food is a human right and that Lexington must commit budgetary resources to ensure food security for all Lexingtonians. The group is calling for an end to food apartheid, where access to fresh, healthy, affordable food is limited due to decades of redlining and divestment in certain neighborhoods.
In conclusion, the Central Kentucky Chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is demanding a People’s Budget that reflects the priorities of all Lexingtonians. The group is calling for affordable housing, strengthened tenant protections, and homelessness prevention, a proactive approach to community safety that addresses the root causes of violence, better public transportation, sustainable infrastructure, and energy efficiency, and food security for all. Lexington must prioritize the needs of its most vulnerable communities and work towards a more equitable and just future for all.
Public comment on the proposed FY24 budget will take place tonight, Thursday, May 11 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber.
Top photo: Citizens gather to give public comment at a council meeting. (Central Kentucky Chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth photo)
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