U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) visited the office of the Grayson County Fiscal Court last Thursday afternoon, Aug. 25 to meet with local officials.
The meeting, which was not open to the public, saw Paul discuss his recent tour of the state, as well as the issues most pressing for Kentucky residents.
Chief among those has been rising costs and inflation, which Paul attributes partially to the large amount of money that was printed during the COVID-19 pandemic that was given to cities and counties and has not yet been spent.
He said that, as that money is spent, inflation rates will rise, but they will go down as interest rates rise to meet them.
According to Paul, the average American family’s wealth is now $2,000 less, primarily due to a reduction in purchasing power as a result of rising costs.
He said that, in a time of inflation, those businesses that can raise their prices do, and those that cannot are squeezed financially and may not survive.
Paul said America is “a great country” and will persevere through its issues, but the upcoming mid-term elections will determine which path it chooses to follow to get there.
Paul then opened the floor up for discussion, and Leitchfield Mayor Rick Embry said he and other local leaders are optimistic about the announcement of the Ford battery plant, which will be constructed in nearby Glendale, Kentucky and add 5,000 new jobs to the state.
Paul said Grayson County is in a “great position” to help meet the needs of the battery plant, which is expected to require around 300-400 suppliers, and he encouraged local leaders to “actively solicit” those suppliers.
Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins then praised the giving nature of Grayson County residents, as evidenced by the success of his recent initiative to collect funding and supplies for Eastern Kentucky flood victims; however, he noted that the county has “a serious mental health issue.”
Chaffins said those suffering from mental health issues often find themselves in the hands of law enforcement officers who are not trained to be mental health professionals.
Many of these individuals encounter the police repeatedly, and, Leitchfield Police Chief David Riley said, a major proponent of the issue is that many refuse to seek treatment.
Paul said he believes some of the money being funneled into mental health programs needs to be used on inpatient treatment, and he questioned when the choice of whether some individuals receive treatment should be made for them if they refuse to accept it.
Just having mental health clinics available sometimes is not enough, he said.
“Unless we go to the people directly, it won’t help,” said Paul.
Chaffins said he has discussed hiring a liaison in his office to follow up on individuals the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office encounters during mental inquest warrants (MIWs).
Embry then asked for Paul’s thoughts on President Joe Biden’s recently announced student loan forgiveness program, which allows individual borrowers who make less than $125,000 a year and married couples or heads of households who make less than $250,000 annually to see up to $10,000 of their federal student loan debt forgiven.
Paul said he believes the program “rewards irresponsibility” and is inflationary, and he does not support it.
He said he understands that college is expensive, which is why he has suggested establishing a program that provides tax deductions to those who attend college and attain a job with their education — something he feels is more responsible because it is “an incentive to work.”
Paul went on to say that the program is unfair to those who have already paid their own student loans, and it offers people something for nothing without admitting there will be future ramifications.
According to Paul, many with student loans are also “more well-off.”