FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear has made his case for reforming Kentucky's tax structure, saying the state's leaders must stop putting off uncomfortable decisions.
In a speech to a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday, Beshear said massive budget cuts over the past five years have hurt key government programs and that additional revenue is needed to undo the damage.
The second-term Democrat said anticipated revenue growth won't be sufficient. He called on lawmakers to think strategically and act courageously.
Kentucky has had to cut the state budget by $1.6 billion since 2008. That has meant cuts of up to 38 percent for some agencies.
A commission appointed by Beshear has proposed a list of tax reforms that would generate nearly $700 million a year in additional revenue.
Gov. Beshear also promoted a statewide smoking ban in his annual State of the Commonwealth speech.
He told a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday that addiction to tobacco is hurting productivity in Kentucky, jacking up medical costs and killing people.
Beshear said some three dozen cities and counties in Kentucky already have smoking bans in public places. He said it's time to look seriously at extending the ban statewide.
The Democratic governor said people still could light up, just not in places where they'd expose others to secondhand smoke.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)