Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fiscal Time Bomb Still Ticking

There is really only one thing that matters in Kentucky right now and that is what we need to do now to survive a full-blown crisis in our state employee benefit plans.

It is nearly impossible to exaggerate this disaster. The best analogy I can think of is that we are on the Titanic and can only avoid getting sunk by the iceberg if we start turning now.

We are nearly $30,000,000,000 short in the funds we use to write pension checks and pay health benefits for state government workers. If we don't raise taxes, -- and we can't afford to raise taxes -- we are going to have to cut spending. A lot. There is no other way around this and if the people don't start screaming about it now we will see, within ten years, employers fleeing the state and leaving a real mess behind them.

And we can't fund our state government on Social Security checks.

What this will take is radically changing the way we look at state government. We are going to have to get out of providing a lot of services we have gotten used to. We will have to cut out a lot of programs.

Our bloated and inefficient school system might be a good place to start with a surgeon's knife. Did you know that no other state has a higher percentage of non-teacher school employees than Kentucky? If we start there and then eliminate most of the Kentucky Department of Education we will be heading in the right direction.

Then we need fewer state employees and we need them to stop retiring from one government job only to take another. Did you know only fourteen states have more state and local government employees per 10,000 people than Kentucky does? Kentucky has a law limiting the number of state employees to 33,000 but every two years the legislature votes itself an exemption from this law. In January they are going to do it again unless we make them stop it. Ask your Senator or Representative why he or she thinks government can't get by with less when the rest of us have to sometimes.

If you want your children to be able to live in Kentucky ten or fifteen years from now, you will take this threat very seriously.