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Q&A with Sen. Tom Buford

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By Brandon Mattingly

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Jessamine County, announced his intentions to seek re-election in 2014 for the 22nd Kentucky State Senatorial seat on Nov. 8.

Though Buford has been part of the general assembly since originally being elected in 1990, he’s a new face to many local residents, as Washington and Mercer counties were added to Buford’s district during redistricting this past summer. They join Jessamine, Garrard and Fayette, which were represented by Buford under the previous alignment.

Buford has been a Jessamine County resident his entire life, graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1971. He attained degrees in accounting, business administration and economics.

In a short Q&A session, Buford shared what Washington Countians can expect from their new state senator, as well as what issues he thinks are the most important for Kentucky going forward.

Q: What can you say about looking ahead to working with the people of Washington County?

Sen. Buford (SB):
It’s my hope to be in all of Washington County; Springfield, Willisburg, Mackville as often as possible. I’ve enjoyed meeting everyone in those communities so far. We were most recently at the public library when they had the nice Halloween program for the children.

Washington County has so much history and I’m a history nut. I really enjoy everything I can read to find out more about Springfield, going back even to the days of Abraham Lincoln.

Everyone has been so pleasant and so kind. It’s a wonderful place to represent and I’m glad to take it into my district.

Q: What are some of the issues that are currently focal points of discussions between you and other state officials?

SB: I am a republican. Needless to say, on the fiscal side of matters I’m a conservative. I’m watching very closely issues like our state pension and what we need to do to guard that for state employees after they retire.

Other issues on the table are the tax overhauls that are being mentioned constantly. I think we need to slow down on racking up our debt. We have to reduce our taste for expanding certain entitlement programs in Kentucky. I think we need to maintain what we have without expansions.

Another issue that’s come to the table is casino gaming. I’m not sure where that will go, but I do not believe the support is there in the senate and probably not in the house of representatives this time. Feb. 1 is when we will know how many house members have challenges from their districts that will determine if they’re brave enough, I guess, to vote for casinos or not.

Q: Have you taken a particular interest in Williams Oil Company’s proposal for the Bluegrass Pipeline?

SB: Yes indeed. The former state senator for Washington County, Jimmy Higdon, I and several others filed a resolution concerning the pipeline during our session for redistricting. In that resolution, we tried to make a formal request to take care of this eminent domain issue, so that individual property owners cannot be violated by having someone come onto their property without permission.

I very much support that and I think we need to move forward with caution.

The issue of eminent domain should not be present for a company that is not involved in state business. The resolution we passed would make some clarifications that eminent domain is not for private companies.

When you get about 30 of 34 votes for something, it’s pretty obvious that the pleasure of the senate is to make a correction to this. I think the house of representatives will do the same.

Q: What is the biggest impact the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) could have on Kentucky?

SB: We had a very bumpy transition to what was called the Private Managed Care Program and now we’re into the implementation of Obamacare, which could add about 200,000 to 300,000 more recipients of Medicaid. It would be at no expense to the state for the first two or three years, but after that, we will have to start to pay a portion. We have struggled with our Medicaid for at least the last 10 years and there’s not much improvement last session.