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Kentuckians are not stupid. HB 5 is an attack on Kentucky’s most vulnerable populations.

My grandmother was born near New Castle in 1911, the youngest of nine.

Her family moved to Indiana when she was five. She attended school in a one-room school and completed through 11th grade. She was the most educated person in her family. She hated being called a stupid Kentuckian.

Grandma was a young widow. My mother was 11 when she lost her father. Grandma was a single mother who worked odd jobs, but she was determined that her poverty would not keep her daughter from going to college.

My mother was a hardworking student. She graduated first in her class and won a scholarship to Indiana University and later earned a Masters and other post-doctoral awards.

Because of the lives she and my grandmother led, my mother firmly believes that education is the great equalizer. It can work, if we invest in it. But we must make education accessible to every young person – of every background, race and ability – and celebrate the different gifts of every child.

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I graduated from a public high school in Georgia in 1979. I moved to Kentucky in 1998 and was able to buy a house with my own income. I achieved my dream thanks to the public education that my mother valued so highly.

Today I am medically disabled. My disability income is about half of what I earned in 1998. If I lost my house today, I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy another one.

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These are all threads of my life. We all have these wires. Hard work, good luck, setbacks and hands up. That’s just life. We all live here as best we can. The world is full of people who are thoughtful, brilliant, and flawed.

The last thing we need is a bunch of legislators who abandon us when we’re in trouble and deprive us of the resources we need to get back on our feet. Unfortunately, we have too many of these lawmakers in power right now. Their goal is to prevent government from working for all of us.

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HB 5 is an attack on Kentucky’s most vulnerable populations

If lawmakers pass House Bill 5, I would become a criminal because I am unhoused.

I hear the attacks on public education, poor teacher salaries, and the lack of affordable housing. And I see the HB 5 movement in the background. The legislature attacks children and people who have faced adversities they cannot even imagine. They make the cracks that any of us could fall through much wider.

And they’re doing this while legislative leaders are hoarding $3.7 billion in our Rainy Day Fund. These are public dollars for the public good, but lawmakers are setting them aside in their own tax cut fund.

Kentuckians are not stupid. We see what the legislator does.

Grandma tried to avoid being called a stupid Kentuckian. I wish I could afford to move too.

Melissa Perry

Melissa Perry

Melissa Perry is a former CPA, resident of Louisville, and member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.

This article originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal: Kentuckians see what our legislature is doing. HB 5 hurts us all.

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