Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Want to see bunch of sugared-up lawmakers?

Rep. Rick Nelson probably means well with a new proposal to limit food stamp spending on sugary foods and drinks, but before the legislature kills what would seem to be a common sense bill the main thing this will do is activate Big Food and their lobbyists to sweeten up some legislators' campaign accounts.

12/23/11 edit: The link to Rep. Nelson's bill no longer works because the bill has been removed.

Some Beshear 2% cuts are 98% short

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced yesterday that spending exceeds revenues by $190 million dollars and that he will address the problem with certain 2% cuts that amount to (... wait for it!) $29 million.

Most of the rest will come from the same kind of smoke and mirrors games that have created billions of dollars in off-the-books debt that never seems to make it into the headlines.

Or even the press releases from either side of the aisle in Frankfort.

The biggest problem with a 2% cut to the Economic Development Cabinet (ha!) is that it leaves in place the other 98%. There are others, but this should be the beginning of the discussion, not its end. This is where we need the "leadership" Senate President David Williams has been talking about. It's a terrible shame that we are getting instead his image rehabilitation efforts and, likely, more bipartisan tax increases in January.

This is why a "no tax increase" pledge is important.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Mitt Romney doesn't get

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney explains the difference between his Massachusetts government health coverage plan and President Obama's federal government health coverage plan basically as one of jurisdiction.

“Our plan was a state solution to a state problem," Romney said. "And his was a power grab by the federal government to put in place a one-size-fits-all plan across the nation."

But if we have learned anything since starting Medicare and Medicaid almost half a century ago, it is that expanding the role of government in health care is not a very good solution no matter where you are.

So Mitt wants to repeal ObamaCare on jurisdictional grounds. But if there were any doubt that failure to grasp the problem with too large a role of government remains an issue with him, just wait till you see his plan for Medicare.

He wants to set up a voucher program to compete with the federal program. Of course, the private options will have to play with real dollars and the government option will get to keep using government accounting and an endless supply of tax and borrowed money. Can't be surprised when that doesn't work well for anyone but the polticians who support the government option.

It's like "if you like your insurance, you get to keep it" in reverse. No thanks.

Kentucky goes crazy for Casey Anthony

Kentucky is well on its way to having ten pre-filed bills that would make it even more illegal to neglect your child like Casey Anthony was accused of doing. Senator Ray Jones today joined the parade.

A Bluegrass Fair dunking booth was a big hit this summer in Lexington because it featured a Casey Anthony look-alike who heckled patrons until it was decided that making a joke about a dead child might be in poor taste.

This legislative piling-on is no better.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Did Hal Rogers just endorse term limits?

Congressman Hal Rogers told CN2 that the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge should have a one term time limit on it.

Congressman Hal Rogers does not understand the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Left unchecked, government will only grow bigger and stronger. Small government advocates support candidates who realize this is a problem and promise to do something about it. Refusing to give the federal government tax increases is one of those things. We don't put time limits on core principles.

Congressman Hal Rogers made that promise himself when he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Now he wants out. This is not what we need from Republicans in Washington D.C. right now.

Repealing ObamaCare isn't enough

President Obama's opponents on health reform should look at a developing controversy in Kentucky for a clue to winning a larger battle about the role of government.

Click here for a Kentucky Knows Best report on efforts by state politicians to limit their constituents' health coverage options even more than current federal law mandates.

Christian Care Medi-Share is obviously not the perfect health coverage plan for everyone. But federal law exempts it from regulation under ObamaCare while Kentucky officials attempt to run the health care cost sharing program out of the Commonwealth.

Few politicians in Kentucky want to be associated with Barack Obama. Even fewer would like to be described as worse than Obama on health care, but that is the current state policy. Please call your representatives and tell them to support more health care choices for Kentuckians.

ObamaCare may or may not be repealed in 2012, but if we can't even get behind the idea that government shouldn't be making health decisions for everyone then we deserve whatever we get.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for the Tea Party this year

On balance, 2011 has been a challenging year for the Tea Party. We lost some elections. The debt ceiling fiasco drags on with higher debt, no real cuts in spending and a "supercommittee" deal that allows both Republicans and Democrats to yell at each other through the 2012 elections without addressing the main issue.

Government didn't get any smaller in 2011 and next year looks even worse.

Long live the Tea Party.

A lot of us said at the beginning of the movement in 2009 that it took many decades for us get in our current mess. We weren't going to get out of it in a few months. And so, we didn't succeed immediately and beyond our wildest dreams. For this, the opposition is calling still for us to give it up and go away quietly.

Go fish.

Democrats say the state of things is the Republicans' fault. Republicans reply that it is all Obama and the Dems. Tea Partiers point out that it is both sides of the professional politician racket bobbing and weaving and hoping no one catches on to them.

We have caught on to them. If you are part of the Tea Party, thank you for hanging in there. The tough times are far from over, you know that. Keep up the fight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Same old trap on casino gambling

In much the same way that you can't have open borders and a welfare state, you can't have expanded state govenment revenue streams with enormous social costs in a welfare state.

Casino gambling in Kentucky can't pass the legislature without promising to fund too many pet projects with all the hoped-for revenue. And it can't, in reality, fund all the projects.

Take, for example, Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington. She gives her laundry list of funding suggestions in the video below and then states she will not vote for casinos if funds are not devoted to those areas.

The people want casinos to help the horse industry have to figure out a way around those who want casinos to make government bigger. In other words, they are still at square one after all these years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another $2 billion hole in Kentucky's pocket

Last January, The Washington Post ranked Kentucky's gubernatorial race as the most important one to watch in 2011.

It never materialized in the fall because the best points of attack against Gov. Steve Beshear (tax increases, massive bonded debt and underfunding of the state employee benefits plans) all applied equally to Republican nominee Senate President David Williams.

In fact, an actuarial report out today from the Kentucky Retirement Systems showed the legislature over the last four years cut short their required payments into the pension plans by more than $2 billion.

It's very likely this blog post is the first you are hearing about this latest outrage. If you would like to have access to information like this without waiting to see what the mainstream media filter wants you to know, click here to sign up for Kentucky Knows Best email updates. You only need to provide your email address and then respond to one confirmation email.

The Smurf Employment Act of 2012

Kentucky state Rep. Brent Yonts is pre-filing a bill that would encourage methamphetamine cooks to create jobs throughout the Bluegrass state.

Of course, that's not the way he is selling it.

Funny that politicians "fighting" drugs actually create jobs while doing so but, for once, don't want to talk about it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No more wire hangers!

Sparks will fly in Frankfort tomorrow with the expected release of the Kentucky Retirement Systems' annual actuarial report. The report will show in detail how drastic underfunding in state budgets has drowned Kentucky's public employee benefits plans in red ink.

On the campaign trail this fall, Governor Steve Beshear remained silent about the status of the benefits plans and Senate President David Williams repeatedly attacked anyone who mentioned the fact that he helped underfund the plans to the tune of billions of dollars. Perhaps we will hear from them on this tomorrow.

If Beshear and Williams were Hollywood actresses, Beshear would be Greta Garbo and Williams would be Joan Crawford.

Duck and Cover time in Frankfort

The Kentucky legislature on Tuesday morning will hold a committee discussion about potential banking and insurance issues for the upcoming 2012 General Assembly session.

In the age of ObamaCare decimating health insurance and Dodd-Frank wrecking the financial sector, this is as close as Frankfort gets to must see tv.

The meeting starts at 10 am in room 149 of the Capitol Annex and will probably be available on the internet at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why would they think that?

The Lexington Herald Leader printed an article today about the disastrous Kentucky Retirement Systems' mishandling by Frankfort leadership. The article contained no new information and could have been written any time since the pension special session in 2008.

There was one telling statement, though.

The article quoted KRS actuary Thomas Cavanaugh talking about how ignorant Frankfort politicians are about the biggest financial disaster in state government.

"I'm sure there are people in the legislature who think they'll be 100-percent funded in 2025 based on what they’ve done," Thomas Cavanaugh of Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting told the KRS board.

And the reason any elected official in the legislature might think that Kentucky's continued underfunding of the pension system will magically lead to 100% funding in 2025 is the mainstream media has carefully avoided telling them anything else.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What will Kentucky Senate GOP do?

Last year at this time, Kentucky's Senate Republicans put up a comprehensive agenda in an ambitious if transparent attempt to give Senate President David Williams some conservative credentials.

Now that Williams is no longer a candidate for governor, will Senate Republicans move in 2012 to show that 2011 was more than a campaign stunt?

Despite some calls for Williams to step down, he remains the President of the Senate. He says that he will be a better Senate President. We sure need one.

He could start by showing up for the redistricting discussion. House Speaker Greg Stumbo has shown his hand, which appears to show that he wants Congressman Hal Rogers' job. And the congressional delegation seems to be playing the same game. Williams will do well to propose a more balanced plan. And the sooner, the better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Will Mike Cherry show up in 2012?

With Democratic Sen. Dennis Parrett's pre-filing yesterday of a bill to clean up the David Williams pension scandal, only one caucus of the General Assembly has failed to show interest in the effort.

House Republican Ron Crimm and Senate Republican Jimmy Higdon previously filed similar bills to what the Senate has passed the last two years. House Democrats failed to respond both times, choosing instead to keep the issue on the table as Senate President Williams ran for governor.

In fact, Rep. Mike Cherry filed such a bill in the 2011 session but didn't even call it up for discussion in his own committee.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Will Gary Johnson sue WKYT and WLKY?

Presidential candidate Gary Johnson filed a campaign finance complaint against CBS with the Federal Election Commission today, claiming that by excluding him from its televised debate the network contributed illegally to his opponents.

CBS will claim exemption from the rules under the federal media exemption, but Johnson has made a good point. He's polling even with Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum. If they can receive the significant value of inclusion in a prime time nationally televised debate but he can't, are our federal campaign finance laws really providing equal protection to all citizens? Why not?

Incidentally, Kentucky doesn't have a media exemption. Perhaps Johnson should file his complaint against the CBS affiliates here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Industrial hemp won last Tuesday

Overlooked in much of the post-election punditry is the increasing support for industrial hemp as a cash crop in Kentucky.

When conservative candidates started campaigning on hemp cultivation last fall, establishment politicos attempted to capitalize on common misperceptions about hemp to scare people.

The election of James Comer as Agriculture Commissioner could well change that. Comer campaigned in support of hemp and now has the opportunity to lead on an issue whose time has come.

There is already one bill pre-filed to support growth of hemp in Kentucky. Expect there to be more.

Let the unwinding of ObamaCare begin

The U.S. Supreme Court just announced a ruling on the constitutionality of ObamaCare will probably come in June 2012.

Kentucky can move to protect ourselves somewhat from the unpredictable nature of the Court. Let's begin by sending back the federal money delivered to Frankfort to begin implementation of ObamaCare. And then let's repeal Kentucky's Certificate of Need laws.

Lots more to do before June, but that's a start.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ken Moellman didn't beat K.C. Crosbie

The front page of the Lexington Herald Leader on Saturday exclaimed in large letters that Kentucky tea partiers didn't accept blame for GOP losses this week. And we don't, but that will not deter the establishment types eager to hang K.C. Crosbie's narrow loss in the Treasurer's race around the Tea Party's neck.

The issue first came up earlier in the year when Tea Party Republican candidates Phil Moffett and John Kemper signed Libertarian candidate Ken Moellman's ballot petition. Changing Kentucky's ballot access laws to end the artificial GOP/Democrat duopoly will be a great Republican issue when the party grasps the idea that the real enemy is a system that limits voters' voices by limiting their choices. If you need a refresher on the concept, watch the movie Miracle on 34th Street.

The bottom line is 843,028 people voted in Kentucky's latest election and only 806,590 cast a ballot in the Treasurer's race. That's more than enough apathy to have made up K.C.'s 17,497 vote deficit in the race.

That's also not as far-fetched as the assumption all of Moellman's 37,261 votes would have gone to Crosbie. Moellman campaigned on shutting down the Treasurer's office, just as GOP nominee Melinda Wheeler did four years ago. Crosbie campaigned on doing more with the office.

If the Crosbie loss turns into another excuse for the GOP establishment to flog tea partiers for holding onto their principles, then nothing good will come of this. If, instead, Republicans show openness to ideas (and, more importantly, confidence in their own) by championing the repeal of bogus ballot access hurdles for people who are not Republicans or Democrats, a step toward solidifying support for the small government ideals we claim to support will have been made.

I'm not holding my breath. Are you?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Et tu, John David Dyche?

Establishment politicians are really, really big on loyalty-for-its-own-sake, especially when things aren't going well for them. So it was extraordinary to see Louisville Courier Journal columnist John David Dyche call on Senate President David Williams to step down.

Should be interesting...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Newt Gingrich gets the third thing wrong

If you think Rick Perry forgetting the name of the Energy Department was an unforgivable sin, click here.

Why David Williams lost

Senate President David Williams said he lost because he is unpopular and not because of his conservative message. He is half right and this is the most important point of the election.

David Williams lacked the popular support to get elected governor because he betrayed conservative principles over and over and over again and demonstrated great wrath against anyone who dared call him on it.

Predictably, some people want us to believe conservative principles lost on Tuesday. Others just want to blame the Tea Party. But the only way we fail now is if we stop pushing for smaller government and less political power concentrated in the hands of a small number of professional politicians.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't let Hal Rogers do this

Congressional redistricting hasn't gotten the coverage it deserves and now we know why. Rep. Ben Chandler has worked out a quiet deal to trade some of his Republican voters to Rep. Hal Rogers' 5th district and in exchange will gain enough Democrats to solidify his otherwise shaky hold on the central Kentucky seat.

Their scheme has to be approved by the General Assembly. Call your state Representative and Senator and tell them the purpose of redistricting is to ensure better representation for the people and not safer seats for professional politicians.

Steve Nunn Pension Act of 2012

Convicted murderer (and former state Rep.) Steve Nunn gets to keep his legislative pension while serving his life sentence without the possibility of parole.

His pension is enhanced by a little goody legislative leaders rammed through late in the 2005 session.

While we are looking for bipartisan agreement, getting rid of legislative pensions would surely be a fine place to start.

An unfortunate lack of differentiation

Republicans win when they show themselves to be substantially different than their opponents. Looking forward to 2012, the GOP needs more people who will stand up against the status quo all the time and not just right before a general election.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

One election night number

One number tells the story of election night: 444.

That's the number of votes separating Senate President David Williams from the worst candidate on the ballot, Agriculture Commissioner candidate Bob Farmer.

Meanwhile, Farmer's opponent James Comer outpolled Williams' opponent Gov. Steve Beshear by 56,052 votes. That's way more than enough ticket-splitting to deny Williams a governor's pension.

I hope this puts to rest any ideas Williams had of taking control of the Republican Party of Kentucky in the new year. He would do well to go to the Senate and put action behind some of his newly discovered conservative campaign talking points.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Kentucky "a bit stranger"

The Wall Street Journal Online takes a look at Kentucky's gubernatorial race this morning and you can watch the video by clicking here.

Kim Strassel refers to Kentucky as "a bit stranger" than other states in an interesting if imprecise analysis. Trying to make sense of an Obama-supporting Democrat crushing a Republican in a state that rejects Obama overwhelmingly without understanding what a horrible candidate David Williams, though, would be a challenge for anyone.

The key point to take away from this race is that Kentucky Republicans who try to run a budget-busting legislator who claims to be a budget-cutter should expect to lose to a Democrat who plays the same game.

Monday, November 07, 2011

David Williams' Budget Buddha

Kentucky's GOP gubernatorial nominee David Williams wasted most of last week attacking Steve Beshear's Christian faith in a manner reminiscent of Jack Conway's desperate Hail Mary against Rand Paul last year.

So, how is he spending the last day of the campaign? By attacking Beshear on the state budget.

This line of attack is years too late to have any credibility at all. Williams voted for every one of nine budget bills Beshear signed into law, approving every dime of excessive debt and the failure to seriously address our state's fiscal issues. Our state budget should have been the most important issue throughout the fall election, but after years of silent complicity Williams was forced to mostly avoid the subject. The state budget has to be more than a little statue whose belly Republicans rub the day before an election for good luck. Job number one for conservative Kentuckians in 2012 and beyond will be to get establishment politicians to either understand that or get out of the way. If you'd like to support Kentucky Knows Best PAC in this effort, please donate whatever you can by clicking here. Thanks for all that you do.

Did Sarah Palin just define Kentucky for 2011?

I was off by a few days when I hinted last week about a big endorsement in Kentucky's Attorney General race. By now you have surely heard about Sarah Palin endorsing Todd P'Pool, invoking national and state issues the Democrat incumbent has failed to address.

I think 2011 in Kentucky is about to become the Year of the Ticket-Splitter.

Sarah Palin knows Kentucky Senate President David Williams. He was state chairman of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. So on Friday when Palin weighed in the Kentucky elections, she endorsed Attorney General candidate Todd P'Pool.

The most telling move of the whole race came next when Attorney General Jack Conway responded by digging up an email endorsement from Howard Dean.

In 2007, two down-ballot Republicans won despite the top of the ticket falling by nearly twenty points. I think there is a good chance we will see three or more Republicans win tomorrow despite Williams losing by more than twenty. Not that Sarah Palin caused this to happen, but she has proven herself to be pretty good at sizing up a political situation. With this one move, she may have defined the 2011 Kentucky general election.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

David Williams' Hindu Hat Trick

In the last week of the biggest race of his political career, Kentucky Senate President David Williams managed to make national news by showing everyone that Jack Conway doesn't have a monopoly on ridiculous attacks against an opponent's religious beliefs.

The next day Williams made it a two-fer, complaining that Governor Steve Beshear showed more respect for Hindus in Elizabethtown than he did for the state Christmas Tree in Frankfort.

And now, via the Courier Journal, we know Williams went for the trifecta on Friday by talking to a Hindu leader in Maryland without apologizing and specifically accusing Beshear of praying to Hindu gods.

And the only real issue, misuse of taxpayer funds for "economic development" got short shrift just like legislative pensions, state debt and all the other issues ignored by the bickering combatants.

Good grief. Beshear and Williams are going to need a lot of help addressing Kentucky's desperate fiscal woes in 2012.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Kentucky isn't last on this list, yet

The American Medical Association quietly released a study ranking state health insurance markets last week and Kentucky wasn't among the ten worst.

Our state's flirtation with socialized medicine two decades ago -- and the subsequent backlash -- may have a lot to do with that. But as ObamaCare kicks in and all states become as bad as Massachusetts, we will have only ourselves to blame. Frankfort's bipartisan lack of resistance to ObamaCare's growing tentacles has put us all at risk.

Kentucky should return immediately all the strings-attached federal cash related to ObamaCare implementation and stop applying for more. It's easy to understand why Gov. Steve Beshear doesn't get this simple concept. Such failure is hard-wired into his political ideology. But career moderate Senate President David Williams' acquiescence on this and other issues should go a long way in explaining his inability to turn primary election intimidation into general election traction.

Drive a status quo protector crazy

Phil Moffett has completed a radio advertisement for Kentucky Auditor candidate John Kemper. Please help put it on the air by contributing whatever you can to the campaign. Click here.

John is running against Gov. Steve Beshear's former chief of staff.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

How much polytheism will $20 million buy?

Lost in this week's Aqua Hindu debacle in Kentucky is the leap of faith Gov. Steve Beshear and Senate President David Williams both took by supporting $20 million in tax "incentives" for India-based Flex Films to set up a facility in Elizabethtown.

Rather than accusing Beshear of worshipping multiple Hindu gods, Williams should have stuck with the valid criticism that Kentucky's economic development program serves as proof our taxes are too high.

Kentucky taxpayers will provide up to $20 million in tax relief to Flex Films, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Throw Kentucky home schoolers a bone

Kentucky state Rep. Rick Nelson pre-filed a bill to raise the minimum high school grade point average eligibility for KEES scholarships from 2.5 to 3.0. The bill also raises the minimum eligibility for awards based on ACT scores from 15 to 18 and shifts more money to higher awards for ACT scores and lowers the amounts based on grades.

This shift in focus from somewhat more subjective grades to ACT scores is a good move. The legislature should go one step further and give awards to home schoolers with good ACT scores.

As public school budgets get much tighter, public schools who get creative very quickly will be the only ones adequately serving the public. Standards-based learning that doesn't punish students who are ready to move on is a big piece of the puzzle.

David Williams doubles down on Aqua Hindu

Kentucky gubernatorial candidate David Williams is refusing to move on from his Aqua Hindu gambit this afternoon, putting out the following statement:

Statement of David Williams on Gov. Beshear’s Participation in Hindu Religious Ceremony

“To be clear, I very much support economic development and strongly believe in freedom of religion. What I cannot understand is why Governor Beshear has a long pattern of opposing outward displays of the Christian faith such as Christmas trees, prayers before high school football games, and posting the 10 Commandments but apparently has no problem personally participating in displays of non-Christian religions.

“I see nothing wrong with a governor attending a religious gathering and respecting other cultures. But for him to engage and participate in a Hindu religious ceremony where prayers are being offered to gods in which he does not believe is not only disrespectful of Hinduism but stands in direct opposition to his own expressed Christian faith which recognizes but one God. It also flies in the face of his previous record of stamping out religious displays in governmental settings, which all happened to be Christian in nature.”

Bringing up the Beshear Holiday Tree debacle isn't a bad idea, but this late and in conjunction with this dust up, it does nothing to prevent Williams from getting wiped out next Tuesday and taking some good down ticket candidates with him. It will take Kentucky Republicans significant time and effort to recover from the damage caused by Williams' disastrous campaign.

David Williams goes Aqua Hindu

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway sparked national bipartisan outrage attacking Senator Rand Paul's faith a year ago. Senate President David Williams seems determined to spend the last week of his losing gubernatorial campaign explaining that he doesn't actually hate Hindus after pulling the same kind of stunt yesterday.

Williams has spent years voting in lockstep with Beshear on bad budget bills and getting rolled by Beshear on Williams' own pension grab and assisting Beshear in borrowing billions of dollars for their excessive spending.

Beshear is a terrible candidate and doesn't deserve to win. Until Williams went "Aqua Hindu" yesterday, he was trying, albeit ineffectively, to make the case that he isn't as bad as Beshear. Even if Williams is saying some of the right things now, this dumb stunt helps Kentuckians remember Williams would indeed be worse, if only because his newly found conservativism on the campaign trail camouflages what a terrible politician he is.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Phil Moffett scholarship bill

Kentucky state Rep. Brad Montell pre-filed a bill on Tuesday that would allow donors to school choice scholarship programs to receive a state tax credit for donations providing tuition assistance for Kentucky schoolchildren.

Bluegrass Institute CEO Phil Moffett has already demonstrated the effectiveness of helping low-income students flee failing schools.

John Kemper catches Crit Luallen hiding

Kentucky Auditor Crit Luallen is refusing to release an audit report detailing flagrant examples of wasteful spending by Perry County Sheriff Les Burgett, Auditor candidate John Kemper found.

"These Frankfort politicians cover for each other at election time, with Sheriff Burgett out campaigning for my opponent," Kemper said. "I think a Kentucky Auditor should be removed from office for a trick like this. Crit Luallen should apologize immediately and show the people of Kentucky what she is hiding. And my opponent should have to say what he knows about this. What a disgrace. Getting rid of this garbage is exactly why I am running for Auditor."