Kentucky’s Governor Wants Citizens to Get Less Educated

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear just released his budget for 2012-2013 and it looks like he’s investing in the dumbing down of his citizens:

The budget makes $286 million in cuts, including a 6.4 percent cut to a higher education system that has been plagued by funding cuts and rising tuition for years.

But guess who’s getting a tax break? Ken Ham and his extension-of-the-Creation-Museum theme park:

At the same time, the $43 million tax break Kentucky approved for a Bible-themed amusement park — which will include a 500-foot by 75-foot reproduction of Noah’s Ark — goes into effect for the first time under Beshear’s budget. In addition, the budget includes $11 million to improve a highway interchange near the park. Proponents of the park, Beshear included, have claimed it will boost tourism and create jobs, but those assumptions are based on a report done by the park’s developers.

In summary, Governor Beshear has basically used $54,000,000 of taxpayer money to help the Biblical Ark Park. And he took $50,000,000 away from the education budget.

In other words, the Governor just took away $100,000,000 that could have gone toward educating people.

It’s possible the theme park could draw in customers and provide jobs for some people — but to promote something that is the antithesis of what the children should be learning in their schools is not just wasteful, it’s dangerous.

PZ adds:

… it makes perfect sense, too. It’s not as if the next generation might need a high school diploma to take advantage of the employment opportunities provided by Answers in Genesis. In fact, it’s probably a selling point to the creationists to have an especially ignorant work force already in place.

Congratulations, Kentucky. You elected this guy. (And, just FYI, he’s a Democrat.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Erik Cameron

    Ark Encounter sounds like a really good name for a videogame.

  • Erik Cameron

    Ark Encounter sounds like a really good name for a videogame.

    • http://xbowvsbuddha.blogspot.com Dr Rotwang!

      Oooooh….!  Man, gonna have that stuck in my head all day.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      Would probably be a lot like Fallout. Since an Ark is pretty much a sanctuary that serves as protection against extinction, the vaults were just that.

      … except in this game you never ever leave the vault. Like The Sims but with incest… so much incest.

    • James G

      No, they’ve already made that game:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzIgr_tg6Tc 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_L23MMI7TC4NYYM3BEKY2K34OOY Vanna L

      I thought an Arkin Counter was used to tabulate obscure actors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    In other words, the Governor just took away $100,000,000 that could have gone toward educating people.

    That doesn’t sound quite right… are you sure you’re a math teacher? $100m is not what could have gone towards proper education… $50m is. It’s more like he put $100m towards de-educating people.

    • Brian Nowosatka

      Giving back the $50m taken away; putting the $43m in tax breaks towards schooling instead the Ark Experience, and the $11m towards schooling instead of the interchange…although like Tycha says below, I suppose these things could be talking about the same money.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        Yeah, I see your point. I assumed the two were connected, so the Ark Park tax breaks and Highway improvement wouldn’t have been made unless the education budget was decreased.

  • http://twitter.com/jaymills jamie miller

    FYI, I am a Kentucky educator. I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as a Beshear supporter, but I’m glad he beat the Republican, David Williams, who was MUCH worse and would have probably started some Wisconsin-style confrontation with working people in Kentucky. Anyway, Beshear won “Educator of the Year” from the NEA for his staunch support of education in Kentucky – including a flat refusal to cut the state education budget in the face of rapidly declining revenues – so his cuts to higher education have been a surprise to all of us. It’s not like he campaigned on cutting education.

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    I don’t agree with your math either.  You don’t know where the $50M from education went, so you can’t claim it’s floating around separate from the money allocated to the Noah’s Ark museum, and could have been added back in.

    What you can claim is that the $54M that’s going to be used for museum projects could have prevented removing $50M from higher education with $4M left over for other things.

  • Anonymous

    In case of a flood will the Ark float? Maybe the Gov could use some FEMA money too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      I hope they made it out of authentic materials available during the time the Ark is supposed to have been made. Wood is not strong enough to actually hold together. It is not possible to make a wooden boat that big. It would tear itself to pieces.

    • Alex

      But… will it blend?

  • T-Rex

    Can’t we just wall off/quarantine some of these states before the virus spreads? Ken Ham is a detriment to society.

    • Hc Conn

      Really? I don’t think this “virus” is limited to a particular state or set of states.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t agree with the money KY is spending on this, but I do actually think it will bring in revenue. Until you’ve spent some time with the Young Earth Creationists (YEC), you don’t really get a good grasp about how many of them there are, and how fanatical they are. Sure, you can read about it, but it just isn’t the same as going to a homeschool convention and seeing it for yourself. 

    I always feel dirty when I leave the homeschool convention in Cincinnati. The YEC movement is huge, and I think it will bring a decent amount of money to KY.

    • Nicci

      It probably will bring in revenue; the problem is it’s a short term investment.  Higher education is a huge decider in where talented and educated adults decide to live. By having manageable tuition costs, KY could keep their best students in the state, and lure others in.  By cutting the higher education budget, they’re not doing that. I’ll use UK as an example because it’s the flagship university.  When I attended UK as an out of state student, tuition and housing was ~$10K/year.  Now it’s ~$17K. Even in-state students are looking at around $10K/year today.  If you can go out of state for the same cost or less – and you can – why would you go in state?

      And while the Bible park creates jobs, many of which I suspect are minimum wage, the education cuts are doing to the opposite.  UK is the largest employer in Lexington, which is the 2nd largest city in the state.  Due to the budget cuts, non-faculty staff didn’t receive any type of salary increase for three consecutive years.  This year salary increases were given, but the budget available was 3% per employee – in terms of takehome pay, that’s less than $50/month after taxes for some employees.  In order to help mitigate the financial shortages, positions are being eliminated through attrition; meaning that when someone retires or otherwise leaves the university, that job is eliminated and the responsibilities are added instead to remaining staff.  The result is a staff that is overworked, underpaid, and some (no sure way to tell how many) are seeking alternate employment. This, in turn, makes the education experience at UK less enjoyable for students, making them more likely to transfer.  Fewer students=fewer tuition dollars=less money for faculty/staff salaries, improvements to facilities and programs, so on and so on.

      So talented students leave the state, so what? Businesses go where they can find the resources they need. In today’s market, the resource they need is an educated and capable workforce, and the state is making it increasingly unlikely that they’ll find it in Kentucky.

      • Anonymous

        Like I said, I don’t think it’s a good thing, what KY is doing. I live here, and we fought this tooth and nail. I wasn’t really commenting on the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” concept, rather the park as a concept outside of other considerations.

  • kentuckyfreethinker

    My head hurts.

    • Anonymous

      My head hurts, too

  • Rich Wilson

    What you’re missing from your math is that the ark park will provide for education in both history and biology.  So no need to pay for teaching those in schools anymore.

    Oh, and

     (And, just FYI, he’s a Democrat.)

    So is Rep. Peter Palumbo of R.I.  Religious ass-hattery is non-partisan.

  • AmyC

    As a Kentuckian I am appaled by the use of our tax payer dollars. These cuts to education are crippling the students. I am a Senior in one of the capital city high schools and I have experienced first hand what these cuts are doing to our teachers and our supplies. I work every year in a theater that has ripped curtains/backdrops. Every year in English I have had to buy my own books outside of class because our English department does not have the money for class copies. It’s maddening that Beshear thinks this will promote jobs. Yes you will employ a few hundred people at one time, but it is seasonal work. What happens in winter when the employees are out of work and freezing? With better education comes job opportunities, not building a Kitty Park where people from Tennesse or Indiana will be getting most the jobs (depending on its location).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

    Further proof that the south was destined to lose the war.

    Nothing like promoting stereotype to the rest of the country by making an already ignorant and hick state more so.

    • Hc Conn

      Yes -_- we’re all ignorant hicks because our political leaders do stupid things. And what does this have to do with the civil war?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

        ~ Yes -_- we’re all ignorant hicks because our political leaders do stupid things.

        Your words….

        • Hc Conn

          Were quite obviously sarcastic.

    • Alex

      Stay classy, FSq.

    • Alexis

      Wasn’t Kentucky a border state? Meaning that it did not secede. There were sympathizers with both the north and the south, and it was one bloody place for a few years.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

    Further proof that the south was destined to lose the war.

    Nothing like promoting stereotype to the rest of the country by making an already ignorant and hick state more so.

  • http://twitter.com/cleothemuse Cleo the Muse

    In Kentucky, there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans. Most of our Democrats are “Southern Democrats”, which is to say, they thump their Bibles a little less loudly than the Republicans. That said, Jamie Miller is absolutely right in that Beshear was a FAR better choice than Williams.

    And if the Independent in the race had won… well, let’s just say his running mate would be our governor now, ’cause Galbraith kicked the bucket earlier this month.

    As for the tax breaks, those won’t emerge until/unless the Ark Park actually opens. Since they’re still $20 mil short of their $24.5 mil goal, that’s not likely to happen any time soon. However, the $11 mil in road improvements better not be spent until the park is near-completion.

  • http://twitter.com/olddaad Frank Key

    The linked article also mentioned that the governor is trying to expand Gambling as a means to increase revenue.
    Also, I saw nothing in the article specifically mentioning the Creation Museum although there was a line item for Tourism, Arts and Heritage getting $49M which is a 9% cut from previous year.
    It appears to me that the assumptions in the blog post are a bit misleading. I want to be outraged but the facts seem to indicate a Governor who is making practical moves to improve his state’s financial situation.

  • Annie

    “It’s possible the theme park could draw in customers and provide jobs for some people —”

    As someone else wrote, most of the jobs being created would be seasonal and minimum wage, but I would also think the “park” would have some system in place for ensuring that the jobs went to like-minded people who shared the vision and ideas being presented in the park.  Once they get the tax break, is there any way to insure they will not discriminate based on religion?  I know there are legal routes one can take if they do, but that adds up to more money. 

  • Anonymous

    Like any good dystopia the first step is always creating an ignorant and  uneducated mass that you can then fill, whats left of, their minds with trivial garbage and propaganda.

    From the view of someone in power this is a really sound strategy. Once the masses are convinced they don’t need to think any more they’ll also forget thing like the constitution and human rights.
    Your leaders may seem like idiots but they’ve don their homework on controlling people.
    In a few generations there won’t be anyone left in America with the qualifications to join the ACLU or other thorns in the leaders sides.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    I must add my objection to your math. The governor shifted $50 M away from education. Of course, the Ark Park could be viewed as negative education.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      I am concerned with the number of people here who cannot grasp the arithematic:
      1. $50million cut from schools.
      2. $54million tax-break granted to ark park.

      If he did not cut from the schools AND he did not grant the tax-break AND he gave the resulting $54million to the schools, that’s $104million.

      It’s true he still may have had to cut $50million from somewhere else. Regardless, the math is quite sound. 

      • qtip

        But isn’t this tax break just a reduction in taxes and not cash given to the Ark Park from the state? For example, here’s a quote from one part of the deal:

        “The rebate allows the company to receive some of its sales tax back over
        10 years. However, if the project does not generate sales taxes as
        expected, it will not receive the rebate, said Carolyn Ridley,
        chairwoman of the tourism authority.

        • Steve Grove

          And the tax break is only if the company builds and runs and generates business that is taxed. The point is moot if it doesn’t happen (the park isn’t built), because it would not generate any taxes. So by stopping the thing from starting you are basically saying that “New business is not welcome in this state because our school taxes are being cut.” While PZ may be a good math teacher, he has no idea about economics.
          Why on earth would they just add the money back to the schools when it is cut because there is no money? Why does PZ even include that in this article? Of course 50 plus 50 equals 100, but why only ask for 50? Why not ask for 150? Then you could say, “This park is costing us $200 million.” Since your 50 comes out of thin air anyways, why not make it 150 million. What he should be talking about is how much taxes is the Ark Encounter paying if they are going to get 43 million back? I am afraid he gives atheists a bad reputation for inane thinking and building straw men.

        • Steve Grove

          And the tax break is only if the company builds and runs and generates business that is taxed. The point is moot if it doesn’t happen (the park isn’t built), because it would not generate any taxes. So by stopping the thing from starting you are basically saying that “New business is not welcome in this state because our school taxes are being cut.” While PZ may be a good math teacher, he has no idea about economics.
          Why on earth would they just add the money back to the schools when it is cut because there is no money? Why does PZ even include that in this article? Of course 50 plus 50 equals 100, but why only ask for 50? Why not ask for 150? Then you could say, “This park is costing us $200 million.” Since your 50 comes out of thin air anyways, why not make it 150 million. What he should be talking about is how much taxes is the Ark Encounter paying if they are going to get 43 million back? I am afraid he gives atheists a bad reputation for inane thinking and building straw men.

  • Hc Conn

    This makes me upset as a Kentuckian who pays her fair share of taxes. The money could be used in a much better way. The roads are poor where I live, there are people who need help with food and heat during the winter, the schools could certainly use extra funding, etc.

    I am also disappointed in some of my fellow atheist on this site who have made ignorant, prejudiced and cruel comments regarding those who live in the state.

    • Annie

      Hc Conn- as a Floridian, I share your frustration.  Whenever something ridiculous happens here, the resounding response seems to be, “That’s the South for you!”  But, especially this week, we should all remember that there is no state in the union that is immune to such religious atrocities… just ask our northern neighbors in Rhode Island.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Politicians and education are natural enemies. Having a populace of uneducated bumpkins means they can get away with bigger lies. It’s rare when a politician will consistently and meaningfully support education at any level. Many will give lip service to it, but later, the money won’t be there to match the rhetoric.  They will begrudgingly fund their school systems and colleges to just get by, but never, ever is education the top priority. 

  • Thin-ice

    I’d love to see them build this replica ark the same way that Noah did: no power tools, no cross-cut saws or blades, raw trees (not lumber from the mill, and no fir, cedar, redwood, etc), no trucks to deliver materials, no computers, calculators, slide rules or paper plans, and just half a dozen people or so. Now, if they could build that ark under those conditions, that would be a miracle, hallelujah!

    • Anonymous

      and without millions of dollars of up front investment –or tax breaks –or government assistance!

      Seems to me somebody doesn’t trust in their god’s omnipotence…

      Frankly, I am appalled that they want to keep animals in the monstrosity– and I hope concerned citizens and animal rights groups protest. I cannot see how this is likely to work at all.  I’m sure they will need a lot more than 8 people (not to mention considerable education) just to keep most species alive.  I can’t imagine the poor elephants, gorillas, kangaroos, hippos, giraffes, pandas, etc.  etc. having to live on a wooden boat. 

      This whole thing is just crazy.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        The website http://arkencounter.com/ does not specify that live animals will be on exhibit inside the “ark.” It says there will be a petting zoo and an aviary nearby. Maybe they’ll have robotic dinosaurs inside, similar to the lunatic displays at the Creation Museum. 

        So perhaps the Ark will be displayed as being in the early stages of loading the livestock. After all, it would make sense to put the roughly 700 known (so far) dinosaur species on board first, since they were so gigantic, and then give all 1,400 of them massive doses of Bronze Age tranquilizers to keep them from eating or just crushing those cute and tasty mammals.

        • Rich Wilson

          Ah, but you see they only need one pair of each ‘kind’ of dinosaur.  Can’t be more than a couple of dozen. And of course they only needed babies. See piece of cake!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    Since I was born and raised in West Virginia, I claim the right to call anybody a hick. And so does my sister/wife.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I have read reports in the past correlating increases in religiosity with decreases in wealth.  Seems Steve Beshear may have read the same reports; by devaluing education he may be trying to reverse the decline in religious observance.

    Disclaimer, this is personal speculation, far fetched at that, inspired by a recent viewing of Mel Gibson’s ‘Conspiracy Theory’ and a sugar induced hallucination brought on by too many Twizzlers in a single sitting.

  • Anonymous

    Bury him under the Ark……………………

  • Ulrike Dunlap

    I’m just waiting for the finished ark, so I can go there with a list of “all living creatures” and have someone show me how they were all supposed to have been on the ark together with 40 days worth of food for each.

    • Alex

      I’m sure gawd put them into some “deep sleep” or something. Like he did with that Adam fella before removing his baculum.

  • Alex

    (And, just FYI, he’s a Democrat.)

    This right here is why I am reluctant to identify myself as a Democrat. In general, they make much more sense than Republicans, but then there are idiots like this guy…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Thompson/1827707654 Kevin Thompson

    What has been the cause of failing education in Kentucky before Answers in Genesis came along and got a tax break?

  • http://twitter.com/WorldsOfWeird Worlds Of Weird

    The Monkeys Are Running The Zoo


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