Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Legislature Shirking Duties On Public Pensions

Emperor Nero has earned enduring scorn for not putting out the fire that burned Rome when it was small enough to handle. Kentucky governors and legislators have done similarly in recent years with the public employee pension plans and the growing threat could burn up our state's bank account.

House Bill 418, passed by the House of Representatives unanimously on Monday, addresses the pension shortfall but does so ineffectively. Kentucky's elected officials aren't exactly fiddling like Nero while the crisis bears down on us, but HB 418 will be a short-lived band-aid approach. The end result may well be about the same.

HB 418 would extend for one year the practice of calculating public employee pensions based on the three highest years of an employee's salary. The good this bill does is to hold off, in theory, the expected tidal wave of government retirees whose pensions we will have great difficulty paying. With the "high three" extended, the hope is that those employees of retirement age will keep working and drawing only one paycheck rather than retiring and coming back to work to draw two checks.

We would like to hope that HB 418 will help as it is intended to do, but far more needs to be done. Here is why: Kentucky's pension problem is not just about investments falling short of future liabilities, it involves how our entire public employee system works. We must end the often-abused system of double-dipping if we are to have any hope of averting disaster with our public pensions. When government employes retire, they should be thanked for the years of service and paid promised pension checks. But we must stop bringing them back at anywhere near their last salary. That practice is breaking the bank.

Rather than nibbling at the edges of the pension situation, Kentucky needs to either encourage would-be retirees to go ahead and leave en masse or to stay around a few more years and -- most importantly -- to train their replacements. In either case, the lack of systematic succession training in government offices is hurting our state financially and will get worse as our population of public retirees swells to unprecedented levels. Instead of hiring back recent retirees at or near their last salary in addition to their pension, we should make training of new employees part of their job before they go.

The reason this will help is that we would be replacing our highest-salaried employees with younger new employees at significantly lower cost. The savings could then be applied to the pension plans.

Continued failure to end double-dipping and to institute effective employee succession planning will result in the public pension plans being unable to meet their obligations. The only solution at that point will be massive tax increases.

McCain Drain 2008

Can't ignore this.

Or this.

Is Ford Motor Pretending To Be Retarded?

As we rush to incentivize Ford Motor Company, Navistar International is rushing the other way.

Kind of reminds me of some good folks in Tacoma, Washington.

It's far from a perfect analogy, but that's the best you are going to get on the fly this morning. I just had to find a way to work that Tacoma story into something. Others will do better, I'm sure.

SB 143: A Good Fiscally Conservative Bill

There sure has been a lot to complain about in this General Assembly session. But SB 143 is the proverbial horse of a different color.

The bill would require accountability in the spending of state tax dollars on local projects. It mandates regular reports during the course of a project and a final report when the work is completed. With every dollar accounted for, it then requires any left over funds to be returned to the state.

It's amazing to think this hasn't been done long before now, but why quibble? I'll take it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Poor Attempt To Keep Kids In School

The House is expected to take up HB 32 today. Let's just call it the "Make School More Like Jail Act of 2007."

The bill would pull the drivers license of anyone under eighteen who drops out of school. I can understand an argument that we don't want teenage dropouts driving around all day, but I really don't want my kids to have to go to school with any additional kids who don't want to be there and might be looking for creative ways to "express" themselves.

Besides, we have been here before and what the law really does is teach drop-outs how to go through the legal system to apply for a hardship exemption.

Drive a truck through this loophole in the statute:

In order for the student to have his license reinstated, the court shall be satisfied that the license is needed to meet family obligations or family economic considerations which if unsatisfied would create an undue hardship or that the student is the only licensed driver in the household or the student is not considered a dropout or academically deficient pursuant to this section. If the student satisfies the court, the court shall notify the cabinet to reinstate the student's license at no cost. The student, if aggrieved by a decision of the court issued pursuant to this section, may appeal the decision within thirty (30) days to the Circuit Court of appropriate venue. A student who is being schooled at home shall be considered to be enrolled in school.

Fox News In Kentucky For Race Coverage

Fox News' Brit Hume is in Frankfort covering what has been billed as a major announcement by the Anne Northup campaign. A press conference at the Holiday Inn on Wilkinson Blvd at 12:30 will start off a day in which the campaign will travel to Bowling Green and Owensboro to continue discussion on this same announcement.

Fox News was already going to be in the state just working on a story of the race and the Northup campaign suggested it would be worth their while to stick around for today's lunchtime announcement.

Harper Versus Pork

Just as I am hearing from more serious GOP primary voters who say they will vote for Billy Harper for governor, Mr. Harper seems to be improving his message.

The MSM didn't cover it, but Harper was the only GOP candidate to stand up with Rep. Stan Lee last week and support the HB 30 special needs student school choice bill.

The soft underbelly of the education bureaucracy is its poor return on investment and continued clamoring for more money. Mr. Harper did himself no favors in his early commercials when he linked himself to KERA, but seems to be hitting his stride with this:

The notion that we need increased taxes and more government spending to transform our schools is not only misguided, but reads right from the outdated playbook of the politicians in Frankfort.

An unfortunate example of this approach is the Covington Independent School District, which spent $13,166 on each student during the 2005-06 school year Ð the second highest rate in Kentucky Ð yet ranked last among the state's 175 school districts for its performance on the annual CATS assessment.

Spending per-pupil in that district has risen 121 percent since 1989, but student achievement has failed to keep pace. The funding is there, but the approach clearly is not working.

In fact, average per pupil spending in Kentucky has risen every year since the KERA reforms, but student performance as measured by a variety of standards is not on the same track.

Now that he is properly indentifying the problem, it is time to hammer home some of the solutions. One of them is empowering parents with school choice. With Mr. Harper deciding to take a stand like this on real education reform, he may want to take a good look at this bill too.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

U.S. Senate 2008 Kentucky Race

Louisville Democrats are putting pressure on Rep. John Yarmuth to take on Sen. Mitch McConnell next year.

That could open up several interesting scenarios, don't you think?

Health Care And Education, Governor

This morning David Hawpe suggests Governor Fletcher should be "bold" and work up a universal healthcare plan for Kentucky.

Yesterday in Richmond, Governor Fletcher made comments that sounded to me like he may be planning to do something like that in both healthcare and higher education.

I'm still waiting for a call back from the Governor's office to clarify what I thought I heard. Didn't see any mention of it in the MSM. More on this later.

Who Will Be The Kumbaya Party Of 2007?

After two hotly contested primaries in May, the fall election will largely come down to which party can pull combatant camps back together better. There are other variables, of course, but this is the big one.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

GOP Gubernatorial Update

Take a look at this online forum at The Conservative Edge.

Money, Big Money, And Public Education

The multi-billion dollar lawsuit between education bureaucrats and taxpayers took another nasty turn yesterday with the Council for Better Education -- love that name -- requesting a trial.

The Lexington Herald Leader, in a news story, has this nugget:

The legislature has spent $487,000 defending the lawsuit while the CBE has spent $391,000 on the case filed in 2003.

And as we waste a million and counting on this lawsuit, two bills in the General Assembly would add tens of millions more to the same rat hole. Kentucky law now requires children to stay in school until age sixteen. HB 221 and HB 279 provide an end-run around the lawsuit by requiring the state to pay school systems to warehouse thousands of teenagers who don't want to be in school.

The great thing about this scheme, from the CBE's perspective, is that if you add in the test scores of the would-be dropouts, they will have a built in excuse to lobby for more money still to combat the lower test scores.

What we need is an incentive for education bureaucrats to think as creatively about educating students as they do about ways to game the system for more tax dollars.

We really, really need to break up the school monopoly and inspire these folks by having them deal with the competition brought on by school choice.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Taped Phone Calls? What Taped Phone Calls?

Just saw this post on another thread:

Weatherman said...
This all pales in comparison to the spending and other habits of Ernie the Drunken Sailor. And wait until the phone tapes are released on Ernie's efforts to stop Trey Grayson's fundraiser last summer.

From what I have heard, many phone calls were made to stop a Louisville fundraiser for Secretary of State Trey Grayson after he mentioned at Fancy Farm the possibility of running for governor himself.

If there are tapes out there, it would obviously make front page news.

We Don't Need Senior Judge Program

The best justification for making the senior judge program permanent is that it lightens the workload on our judges and helps move cases faster. While that may be true, it comes at a heavy price. The family courts were created for the same purpose and are now a permanent institution.

We have an opportunity to cut loose some double-dippers in state government and we should jump at the chance. Tell your state representative to vote against Welfare for Judges, HB 465.

Would We Resent Illegals Less If They Paid Their Fair Share?

One good reason for scrapping state income taxes and replacing them with consumption taxes is that doing so puts the underground economy back on the books.

The states which currently have no income tax are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee limit their state income taxes to dividends and interest income only.

We should seriously consider joining them.

Utah Sets Example On School Choice

If you read nothing else today, read this.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Northup Goes After Fletcher Defense Fund

In an e-mail statement today, Anne Northup called on Governor Ernie Fletcher to divulge information about his legal defense fund.


Now, how about giving us some ideas to empower students and their parents in the public education process? What about a plan to help lower the cost of health care? Any ideas about taxes or what to do with the public employee pension crisis?

Just curious.

Time For Another Sick Day, Harry

It was great Tuesday when Rep. Harry Moberly called in sick. I'm guessing his physical condition was fine, but he didn't want to show up to see his Secrecy Bill roll over and die.

It's time for another sick day, Harry.

Moberly is bottling up the AMC repeal bills. One man shouldn't have the power to hurt businesses like this.

2007 Dem Update: Capitalism Doesn't Work

The floor debate in the House yesterday on the minimum wage was a little contentious and sprinkled with memorable quotes. The Lexington Herald Leader got several of them, but missed this goody from Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville):

"Raw capitalism does not work for vulnerable people."

That's pretty rich coming in the middle of a state ravaged still by the War on Poverty, in which a generational cycle of dependency created by a misguided hope to ameliorate the shortcomings of capitalism has held us back for decades.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jody Richards: Germane Means What I Say It Does

Speaker Jody Richards needs a dictionary, not the additional power he seeks.

House rules require an amendment to a bill be related to the original bill, or germane. Rep. Brad Montell's amendment to exempt part-time workers from the minimum wage increase was judged not germane to HB 305, the bill that raises the minimum wage in Kentucky.

The bill and the amendment are by any definition except Richards' completely germane.

If Richards can't follow a simple House rule like this in front of everyone, what would he do to the merit hiring laws behind closed doors?

Sending Veterinarians To Jail For Being Mean

The Kentucky Senate just unanimously passed a bill (SB 23) that would fine up to $1000 or jail up to 30 days a veterinarian who refuses to treat assistance dogs without prior payment of the dog's owner.

Very few veterinarians are going to turn away a disabled person who needs help with his dog, but do we really want to throw them in jail for exercising the freedom the rest of us take for granted to tell a non-paying client to get lost?

Improving Health Care Options

The biggest thing holding back health insurance reform in Kentucky is an unholy alliance between corporate lackeys beholden to the status quo on one hand and big-government throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bath-water types who will only be happy when we go all the way to socialized medicine.

A commonsense bill which would open the door to greater consumer choice in the state is being shut down in the Senate. SB 135 would simply lower the mandate on insurance companies' coverage of pre-existing medical conditions. It wouldn't require any coverage to be lessened and would have no impact on anyone who already has coverage. What it would do is bring four companies back into the state and provide some much needed competition in the marketplace.

Can you think of any reason such a bill does not deserve our full-fledged support?

"Lifetime Employment Of K-12 Teachers Is Off-The-Charts Crazy"

Steve Jobs of Apple Computer risks a big chunk of his business by speaking up for education.

Read it here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


HB 184 has been withdrawn by the sponsor Rep. Harry Moberly.

This Should Be The Easiest Thing To Pass In KY

Giving Kentucky parents the right to choose how the tax dollars allocated to educate their children are spent should be very easy to implement. That is school choice. Call it vouchers if you want to.

Taking the power from the teachers union and giving it to parents makes a lot of sense in terms of creating competition for our struggling schools. Competition will make our education process stronger and it can be done without any additional costs to the taxpayers.

All we need is a little leadership. Billy Harper was the only gubernatorial candidate to show up at the school choice rally today in the Capitol. His staff worked vigorously to get him a speaking role in the event and deserves a ton of credit for their efforts. Harper's words in support of school choice set him apart in the Republican primary. I know Governor Fletcher and Anne Northup had other events scheduled this morning, but where are they on school choice now?

Back in 2003 while in Congress, both Northup and Fletcher voted for parents and children in Washington D.C. to have access to a pilot charter school program. The program has been so successful, the worst thing critics can say about it is too many families want in.

Surely Fletcher and Northup don't want to deny Kentucky families the same thing they saw fit to grant families who live in Washington D.C.

HB 184 Scuttlebutt

Looks like Rep. Harry Moberly has called in sick today so his noxious HB 184 should be sidelined for this afternoon's session. May he have a speedy recovery and may his bill die a painful death.

Major Endorsement For Northup Coming

The Northup campaign is set to announce a major endorsement next Monday.

Speculative Update: Congress is not in session next week. I'm guessing it will be Rep. Geoff Davis.

Teaching Tuesday

Rep. Stan Lee's HB 30 Special Needs Scholarship bill will be the focus of a 10 AM press conference this morning in the Capitol Rotunda.

The Bluegrass Institute has an interesting article about why education bureaucrats are all twisted up because some people want to improve choices for families with kids who need extra help in school.

Republican candidates for Governor would do well to weigh in on this subject.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Jonathan Miller On Board Against HB 184

I have to admit I thought it was great in 2005 when the budget negotiators in Frankfort secretly returned $13.7 million to the General Fund that had been taken to fill the actuarial hole in the money-losing KAPT program. And seeing that Treasurer Jonathan Miller is still chapped about it did cause me to giggle just a little bit:

We saw how harmful this practice could be when this procedure was used to try to raid $14 million from the KAPT (Kentucky's Affordable Prepaid Tuition) program, a trust fund we established to help Kentucky families save for their children's higher education. Even though 95% of the legislature supported KAPT and would have opposed this attempt to rob the KAPT families of their hard-earned savings, they were misled by a few of their leaders and were forced to vote on this huge budget bill that they had not had a chance to digest completely.

Despite the fact he is nearly $300k off in his telling of the story -- only a rounding error for our not-so-precise state Treasurer -- Jonathan Miller deserves credit for expressing opposition to HB 184 the day before it comes up for a vote in the House.

This should serve as a lesson to those complacent souls who plan to sit quietly by while our General Assembly shuts us out of the legislative process. The sneakiness they seek to legitimize tomorrow won't always go your way.

The Junk In Steve Beshear's Trunk

John Stamper has the story of Steve Beshear's economic development press conference from earlier today. While I can agree that making corporate tax credit information public is a good idea, if that is the centerpiece of Beshear's campaign, he has trouble. And then he pops this one out:

"We need a governor who understands that Kentucky's economic growth will come from Kentucky-based businesses," Beshear said.

This would have to come as an unpleasant surprise to employees, suppliers, and customers of Toyota, UPS, Walmart, Ford, Amazon, ACS, IBM, Kroger, and all the other companies without which Kentucky's economy might make xenophobics happy but would be pretty rough on the rest of us.

And since Beshear's foundation seems to be casino gambling, I can't imagine he did himself any favors by showing up today.

"AMT" Repeal Languishing In A&R

Three bills to repeal the limited liability entity tax (HB 87, HB 88, and HB 119) are dying a slow and painful death in the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee.

Another bill designed to lessen the impact of the LLET (more commonly known as AMC or AMT, it's the income tax for businesses who are losing money) is HB 480. Just filed last week, it may have a chance.

If you want to see this bad tax repealed, you should probably call your legislator. Before he or she gets completely shut out of the process, that is.

HB 184 Media Appearance

I will be on Lexington's Kruser program today (590 AM at 12:30) talking about why we should all oppose HB 184.

By the way, thanks to Rural Democrat for taking a good look at the bill and making up his own mind to oppose it.

Another Really Stupid Idea To Emulate

A lot of the "Eureka!" moments legislators have are actually ideas that they picked up from other states. We can only hope that New Mexico's talking urinal cakes don't join that parade.

The state recently paid $21 each for about 500 talking urinal-deodorizer cakes and has put them in men's rooms in bars and restaurants across the state.

When a man steps up, the motion-sensitive plastic device says, in a woman's voice that is flirty, then stern: "Hey, big guy. Having a few drinks? Think you had one too many? Then it's time to call a cab or call a sober friend for a ride home."

The recorded message ends: "Remember, your future is in your hand."

It is amazing to me that we are still telling people it is a bad idea to get drunk and hit the road. It would be really easy to establish a national database of drivers licenses and permanently revoke driving privileges in any state for anyone driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of .20 or higher. And if the BAC is just .08 to .19, then revoke it for that state only.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Consumers Pay "Corporate Taxes"

The Associated Press has a story about states taxing corporate gross receipts.

The biggest knock on the tax is its potential for taxing a single product multiple times. The tax can cascade across sales of gasoline, for example, when the fuel is sold and resold from suppliers to distributors to customers at the pump, who then could face higher prices to cover the extra costs.

Situations like that make some economists cringe at the idea of states adopting such taxes.

"No sensible case can be made for imposing gross receipts taxes in the modern economic environment," said John Mikesell, an Indiana University public finance professor.

A national business group that opposes such taxes says that while the corporate income tax may be declining as a portion of state revenue, total taxes paid by businesses continue to grow. Companies paid a combined $550 billion last year in corporate, sales, property and other taxes, up 11 percent from the year before, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Council on State Taxation.

"Corporate income tax is not the main business tax and never has been," said Joseph Crosby, the group's legislative director.

When are we going to quit screwing around with getting income taxes "right" and just tax consumption? Income taxes "cascade across" the economy versus retail consumption taxes that get paid once. What we need to do is just repeal all income taxes.

Hoover's Real Leadership On HB 184

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover will seek a united vote against the egregious HB 184 in a caucus meeting Tuesday. Just received the following email:

Good post on HB 184. Wanted to send message to you directly rather than post on blog, but you can use if you want. I am hoping ALL House Republicans vote against HB 184. We are having a caucus meeting Tuesday afternoon prior to session and I intend to seek a united vote against the bill. In the past five years,we have taken some united votes and united positions, which is extremely difficult to do due to the unique diversity of our members. But, i am hopeful, this is one bill we can do that on and it will be interesting to see what Ds do. Thanks,
Jeffrey H. Hoover, Esq.

Finally, The Courier-Journal Checks In

The CJ looked at HB 184 and came to the same conclusion the Lexington Herald Leader and everyone else who isn't running Frankfort from the shadows did -- this thing is no good. Still, it could very well pass. That's because leadership is for it. Legislators who cross leadership can wind up getting shut out in the closed door sessions.

We really need to work up a good head of steam and kill this off; then we need to reform how the whole budget process works in Frankfort. More local projects need to be handled with local money. That means less money going into Frankfort in the first place. There should never be a closed door budget conference ever again. The illegal provisions hidden in the last three budgets should be repudiated by the Governor and the General Assembly so the resulting lawsuits can all be settled and future ones avoided. And Harry Moberly's constituents should replace him in the May 2008 primary.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Call For Debate On HB 184

I will be on the Kruser program in Lexington on 590 AM Monday at 12:30 talking about what a nightmare HB 184 would be for Kentucky. So far, supporters of the bill have been strangely silent about it. As far as I know, only Rep. Harry Moberly and Speaker Jody Richards have publicly defended this fascist scheme.

Where are the rest of you guys?

Allowing a handful of legislators to go behind closed doors in budget years to change any law, raise any tax, or spend any amount of money and then force the rest of us to swallow it all makes no sense. Putting the budget together in closed-door conference at the last minute like they do will allow them to get away with it. That is the entire purpose of HB 184.

After so much ranting and raving about congressional earmarks, are we going to let this far more dangerous practice go through without a fight? Do you really trust these folks that much?

And no, they don't face much risk in the next election for their actions. That's how they wind up in leadership. There is little reason to expect the people pushing this through to pay any political price. Sure, you can vote against your legislator if he or she votes for it, but the next one will face the same pressure to go along and you still can't get to the leaders.

HB 184 very simply repeals open government in Kentucky. Prove me wrong.

Rank-and-file legislators will have to decide to buck leadership and stand up for what is right or to go along so that when the budget conference locks everyone out they will have a chance to get anything for their districts. As a political calculation it could be a difficult choice. House members vote on HB 184 Tuesday afternoon.

Gambling Our Way To Prosperity

I hope that an economic development press conference by the Beshear campaign would mean more than casinos in the mountains, near big cities, and between farms, but color me skeptical.

Sometimes Compromise Is a Beautiful Thing

One of the biggest problems with the minimum wage hike hype is that it glosses over the damage done to the part-time entry level worker who gets priced out of the labor market when the cost of his labor is set too high by the government.

Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) has a terrific answer in an amendment to HB 305: exempt workers who put in less than 25 hours in a week.

The slavish devotees of the left will scream bloody murder over this, but it really is a good idea.

Save entry level jobs. Exempt part-time workers.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fascism Gets A Big Boost In Frankfort

Jody Richards is in favor of the ridiculous HB 184.

His spokeswoman said the purpose of the bill is to "codify the existing practice."

Yeah, Jody, that's what the lawsuits are for. Better call your lawyer.

Update: The House is set to vote on HB 184 Tuesday afternoon.

End of the world update: Despite wild-eyed leadership support for HB 184, moderates Stan Lee and Kathy Stein agree this is a horrible bill.

Responding To Media Surveys 101

The Pol Watchers survey of gubernatorial candidates about casino gambling was interesting. Can't imagine what the Northup campaign was thinking about when they didn't respond. Harper's video response was very good in terms of style. His answer was my favorite, though Governor Fletcher's may be the best political answer. Looks like if you want someone who talks straight about the fool's gold of casino gambling, Billy Harper is your guy. His answers need to get tighter, but he has improved light years since the disastrous Ford press conference.

Jody Richards had much less need to respond than Northup did, so his silence makes sense. Beshear gave the best answer, I think, but he is leading in the wrong direction. Miller and Lunsford would have been better off issuing a no comment. Galbraith suggests a plan to get by without any gambling money, which makes a lot of sense and stands as a stark contrast in the Dem field. Steve Henry responded too. Is he still in the race?

Pushing Parents Out of Public Schools

Rep. Reginald Meeks filed a bill Thursday to dilute parental influence on school-based decision making councils. The bill would add one non-teacher school employee and one minority non-teacher school employee (or just another non-teacher if no minority is available.)

Tom Vilsack Wants To Rule The World

Tom Vilsack is on Jay Leno saying we need to cut off funding for Iraq and bring the troops home now. Also wants to stop using foreign oil.

And this guy is from Iowa?

Jay didn't ask, but I would like to know if he plans to run as an independent if he doesn't win the Democratic nomination.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stan Lee For Attorney General

Liberals love to hate him and now his campaign website is up. Read it and seethe.

Scorsone Goes Wild Again

Senator Ernesto Scorsone is on the Senate floor right now calling the effort to stop University employees from spending tax dollars for health coverage for their boyfriends and girlfriends "bigotry."

He also repeated the lie that the domestic partners would pay the entire cost of coverage. Look it up, Senator.

He is joined by Sen. Julian Carroll, who suggested that domestic partner benefits at public universities would be a great way to cover sick relatives of employees.


Update: SB 152 banning domestic partner benefits at public universities passed the Senate.

Congrats Lexington Herald Leader!!!

The Lexington Herald Leader has gotten on board with their own condemnation of Rep. Harry Moberly's awful HB 184.

Now where in the world is the Louisville Courier-Journal on this?

Harry Moberly owes us an apology for trying to legalize a closed door General Assembly. How embarrassing.

Update: The nascent Kentucky Club For Growth is making plans to warn legislators that a vote for HB 184 will be a "key vote" in determining Club support of candidates in the next election.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Media Fiddles While Freedom Burns

Where the heck is our vaunted watchdog mainstream media while the General Assembly moves to shut out all manner of dissent from our legislative process?

When House Bill 184 passed out of the A&R Committee without a single "no" vote yesterday afternoon, I expected to see some fiery responses from the very newspeople who will be shut out of what will no longer have to be an open form of government. If you don't live and breathe government and public policy then it's understandable if you don't know what I'm talking about and I will do my best to explain this, but for those who know and yet stand by and say nothing, I feel utter disgust and despair. If you know or should know what they are about to do to us and yet choose to sit idly by, you make me sick. If you are still wondering, please read on.

HB 184 makes it legal for the General Assembly to hide any kind of law inside the budget only to spring it on us when Leadership emerges from their closed-door conference and there is little the rank-and-file can do but go along. There will be no reason to have open committee meetings or even floor votes; everything in budget years can go into one bill and we will have no input in what that bill does. We will see it when they are ready for us to see it.

What's worse, this merely makes legal what they have done by stealth in the last three budgets. First time, they slipped in a couple of illegal items on the budget bill. Two years ago, they put in sixteen. Last year, it was nearly thirty. Leadership knew it was illegal then; that's why Rep. Harry Moberly is pushing HB 184 now. He wants to make fascism legal in Kentucky.

It is past time we had some serious discussion about this. It won't wait till the next election. What are you going to do, vote out your legislator? Even if you can do that, it won't matter if he isn't in leadership and gets to go into the budget conference.

Seriously, outrages like this are what we have the 2nd ammendment for.

Update: Here is one story.

Don't Be Dissin' Mookie!

What an ego!

We tell everybody the head terrorist in Iraq didn't have the guts to be a suicide bomber, instead escaping to Iran. To show his manhood -- and his face, we hope! -- Mookie just had to announce that he didn't leave town.

Jody Richards Beats School Funding Rap

The failure of KERA II is so funny in so many ways, I almost can't stand it.

The best part is the judge used the KDA's own bogus "improving" test scores to prove that they didn't need more funding.

I know our liberal friends really don't want to understand how school choice would make our public schools perform better, but that is what we need the most now. As the global economy gets more ferocious, we have to move past the idea that our school systems were created to give jobs to education majors. The need to advance faster demands that we stop the begging for more money and get on with educating our children for the 21st century.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

National Attention To A Kentucky Problem

The National Taxpayers Union is concerned about Rep. Harry Moberly's outrageous "I will make it legal" bill.

Grover Norquist Responds To Herald Leader Attack

The Lexington Herald Leader attacked Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform on today's editorial page and said gubernatorial candidate Billy Harper made a mistake by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Norquist sent me this response:

The Lexington Herald Leader’s editorial “Harper’s bad pledge,” incorrectly likens Mr. Harper’s signing of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to surrendering accountability to an out-of-state group. However, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a commitment made to the taxpayers of a state, not to Americans for Tax Reform. This should be clear from the wording of the Pledge Mr. Harper signed: “I, ____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and all the people of this Commonwealth, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.” The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a statement of principle that one believes the government should not place higher burdens on hardworking families and businesses in order to fund ever-increasing spending.

Kentuckians should applaud Mr. Harper for putting taxpayers over big-spending interests and encourage all candidates running for office to make this important commitment.

Battle For Kentucky Constitution In Frankfort Today

Power-crazed politicians can sometimes be funny to watch when the curtain is pulled back and their naked desires are exposed.

But Budget Chairman Harry Moberly's illegal groping is no laughing matter.

Moberly's House Bill 184, which is set to come up for a vote this afternoon in A&R, turns the Constitution of Kentucky on its head. We already endure budgets these days crafted behind closed doors and rammed down the throats of legislators with no prior scrutiny. That's plenty bad enough. But Moberly's favorite trick is to sneak permanent laws into budget bills, a practice the Constitution prohibits. Nearly two dozen such provisions were placed in the last spending plan.

HB 184 makes it legal to continue stuffing the budget full of measures that could not pass on their own merits, like earmarks in Congress. Emboldening Moberly by legalizing his tactics can not be tolerated any longer. There is not much chance Moberly's own committee will stand up to him this afternoon, but the people of Kentucky should band together to shine the light on such corrupt practices.

If we don't stop this kind of abuse now, we deserve what we will get.

Afternoon update: The House Budget Committee passed HB 184 with Moberly saying it has the support of the Governor. (Attempts to reach Governor Fletcher's office for comment were unsuccessful.) Moberly was defiant in support of his overreaching bill, saying "The budget bill is no different than any other bill." The Constitution of Kentucky disagrees with him. The budget bill is for appropriations. He also said he thought the leaders of General Assembly could put all of their legislation in one bill if they wanted to. Since the budget bill is now negotiated in private by a handful of legislators, this runs completely against our form of government. Chairman Moberly has clearly gotten too big for his britches.

The Revolution Will Not Be Meaningful

This is not what they had in mind for internet video.

The much-hyped First 100 hours of Democrat rule of Congress has turned out to be such a waste of time they are trying to make a big deal out of video of the floor votes, for Heaven's sake. It would be funny if it weren't so pitiful.

Cracking Down On Business Activity In Kentucky

If you have never made your living in sales, you may not have been the least bit offended by the rush to stop all sales calls to people's homes a few years ago. While I'm not exactly pining for the days of abusive, incompetent telemarketers, a bill sponsored by Rep. Mitchel Denham (D-Maysville) goes way too far as an attack against business people.

House Bill 433 literally makes it illegal to do business by calling someone's cell phone. Banning and punishing deceptive sales practices is a proper and welcome function of government. But criminalizing sales calls that happen to be received by a cell phone or blackberry is ridiculous.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bluegrass Bureaucrats To Defend Abuse Of Special Needs Students On Television Tonight

Kentucky Education Association President Frances Steenburgen and Jefferson County Teachers Association vice president Royce Whitman will go on the Kentucky Tonight program at 8 pm to explain their support for the poor treatment of special needs students in Kentucky schools.

Jim Waters from the Bluegrass Institute and LG Steve Pence will be on the program to question the status quo and to describe how HB 30 will help the children.

Jimmy Carter Won A Grammy Last Night

... which helps put into perspective the Dixie Twits' awards. The MSM will portray the awards show as another "turning point" in the war, but feel free not to fall for it.

They even had Al Gore make an appearance. Don't show him this or he will start that shrieking stuff again.

Can't Do Math? Your 'World' Needs You

Read this from the Drudge Report.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hillary On War, Health Care; And Questions

Sen. Hillary Clinton said she would not vote to defund the war and she doesn't think reforming health care should cost additional money.

Wow. Smart politics. Obama and Edwards are running left, splitting that vote and leaving a clear path to the nomination for Hillary.

Two questions remain: do we believe her when she says things like this that make sense? Does it matter if Republicans can't come up with -- or get behind -- a candidate who can win in November 2008?

A side note: Salon.com did an expose on Obama that is still up but they did remove the term "uppity" after liberal Daily Kos called them on it. Funny!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Live Blog Lincoln Day In Jessamine County

Governor Fletcher, Rep. Jeff Hoover, and Billy Harper all spoke to the Lincoln Day lunch in Jessamine county. The three posts that follow describe their comments. As much as the state Lincoln day event was held in Northup country, this is Fletcher country. As it turns out, Governor Fletcher easily carried the day on style points. If the GOP primary is going to send a challenger in to November to try to keep the office in Republican hands, it looks like something different is going to have to happen.

After the gubernatorial candidates spoke, other statewide candidates also addressed the crowd.

Linda Greenwell said that if the party doesn't get behind the gubernatorial nominee, Republicans will lose.

Lonnie Napier said "if you want someone who can lay the Democrat nominee to rest in November, you're looking at the man who can do it."

Tim Coleman, candidate for attorney general, said that he will use the practical experience he has gained being a prosecutor. "I'm not a politician with a law degree."

Stan Lee, candidate for attorney general, gave easily the most rousing speech of the day. "I want to restore public confidence in Attorney General's office. Right now the Attorney General's office has about the same credibility as the Designated Driver program for the Cincinnati Bengals."
"I am going to win this race because I have been an attorney for twenty years, which is also the same amount of time it would take little Jack Conway to grow a moustache."
"If you still believe in the party of God, family, and country, Stan Lee is your man."

Brett Hall spoke for the Melinda Wheeler for Treasurer, saying he would be very brief in his comments. He wasn't.

John Larson, a candidate for Attorney General, said he wants to "hold the line on spending for jails and prisons." Said he is going to increase fiscal responsibility in the prosecution of crimes, suggesting that younger generation is being "picked on" by overzealous prosecutors. "Prosecutors can establish more alternative programs ... shorter sentences ... discourage unnecessary legislation."

Billy Harper Speaks To Jessamine County

"The governor bringing chili kind of adds a new dimension to delivering pork." -- This little joke was delivered and received much, much better than a similar one given to the statewide Lincoln dinner.

"We have to invest whatever it takes so every first grade student has a reasonable chance to get a high school diploma."

"Every dollar this state spends should go for education and job creation."

"The first thing we can do is have state money follow the student. If they can get a better education in a different district we should allow that, even if it means school vouchers."

Rep. Jeff Hoover Speaks

"During the past couple of years, I have worked closely with the Governor and I think he would tell you I have been a supporter of his."

"Anne and I had a discussion and we decided we would provide an alternative."

"I like Ernie Fletcher."

Regarding political problems of the Governor, "whether it is fair or unfair, it is what it is."

"When you have an election that will be focused on (scandals) we can not win. That is why we are providing an alternative."

"We can not afford to have the Democrats in charge of the executive branch of government again."

"We agree with a lot of the things the governor has said."

Hoover said the military exemption bill the governor is talking about was put up by Republican House members each of the last two years and died in part because the administration would not support it.

"We support repeal of the AMC." "That is a policy difference we have with the current administration."

Ducked question on school choice: "we just started the campaign three weeks ago." "We will be coming out with some specific policy positions very soon."

Ernie Fletcher Speaks to Jessamine GOP

Governor Fletcher speaks first:

Begins by talking about the state of the commonwealth back in 2003 when he was running for office. Says his administration kept 95% of promises made in his "Prescription for Kentucky."

Mentioned tax modernization, fetal homicide, sanctity of marriage, increased fetal screening, building schools and roads, highest rainy day fund in history of the commonwealth.

Future priorities: Exempting military from income tax, open up land to hunting, fighting war on drugs.

"Folks, we've already brought a change to Frankfort and we want to continue that."

Harvard Lecturer's Solution To Terror: Buy Advertising On Al-Jazeera

I never considered before such easy solutions to attacks by Islamic fascists as Harvard students were treated to a week ago:

...regarding how Bush might have taken the moral high ground in the wake of 9/11, Richardson said she would have had the media focus on all the Muslims killed in the attack on the Twin Towers and beam that information into homes across the Middle East.

What were we thinking trying to kill terrorists when all we needed was a good media campaign? That's just plain irrational. If only we were more like suicide bombers:

In fact, it might be said that even suicide terrorists are "extraordinarily rational, since they use minimum efforts for maximum effect."

And of course it is still fashionable on the left to give a benefit of the doubt to America's enemies that they wouldn't dream of extending to the President of the United States:

Nor, Richardson claimed, are terrorists fundamentally immoral, although their acts may seem supremely so from the point of view of their victims. An examination of terrorist Web sites reveals an obsessive desire to justify their acts morally, and some who have committed outrageous acts of brutality have at other times performed actions of conspicuous virtue.

Remember, boys and girls, war is not the answer:

Richardson replied that one of the most important characteristics of those like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. who refused to use violence to attain their ends was that they had a vision of the future, something terrorists rarely have. "For example, if you envision a Palestine where Jews and Arabs live peacefully together, it becomes obvious that the way to get there is not by killing each other."

And neither is seeing things as they really are:

"There's something about America that lends itself to exaggeration for the purpose of unification," Richardson offered. "I think it's undeniable that terrorism has replaced communism as a sort of bogeyman, that it's being used as a political football to engender fear."

Can there be much scarier to contemplate than the fact these are the kind of people whispering sweet nothings into the ear of President Hillary Clinton?

What, No Statue Of Jimmy Carter?

Looks like anti-Communists in Poland want to honor Ronald Reagan for understanding our enemies.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Good Bill To Lower Health Costs

Senate Bill 135 changes the definition of excludable pre-existing conditions on individual health plans in Kentucky. It should allow premiums to come down by making it more difficult for people to hide illnesses when applying for health coverage.

This is only a small step, but it is in the right direction.

Ned Pillersdorf: Buying Gas Or Buying Votes?

The testimony in the Bath county vote buying case was interesting enough before one of the defense attorneys starting talking.

But Ned Pillersdorf, one of Maze's attorneys, questioned whether the money was to bring people to the polls or to help pay for gas.

Hey, isn't he the husband of Court of Appeals Justice Janet Stumbo?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

What Role Will Tax Pledge Play In GOP Primary?

Gubernatorial candidate Billy Harper has signed the pledge liberals hate, the No Tax Pledge. This presents a fabulous opportunity for the Northup campaign and will be very interesting to watch.

Scandal: Toyota Doesn't Want To Go Broke

An "exposed memo" buzzing through Detroit will really get them worked up: Toyota North America wants to hold the line on wage growth so the same thing that has nearly wrecked Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors might not happen to them.

Can't have that, can we?

This "scandal" will embolden the UAW efforts to unionize Toyota.

All the more reason for passing Right to Work, filed yesterday.

Trying To Stop The Bleeding

Kentucky's long-term fiscal woes are going to get pretty scary if we don't do something about our pubic employee pension plans soon.

Rep. Bill Farmer (R-Lexington) deserves a ton of credit for trying to do something before it is too late.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Dow Is Setting Records, Do You Know Where Your Social Security Is?

Personal accounts in Social Security are inevitable as stock ownership in America continues to climb.

The scare tactics just aren't going to last that much longer.

And when we start them, no matter who the president is, we will have to call them Bush Accounts.

What Kind Of A Sick Joke Is This?

We are wasting our time talking about a bullying bill for schools when we keep getting these yahoos who want to force unwilling older teenagers to hang around.

Hell Hath No Fury...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Abortion Showdown In Kentucky 2007

Will Governor Jody Richards allow Judiciary Chair Kathy Stein to kill all the pro-life bills that come her way? We are likely to find out soon as an "informed consent" bill is in the works.

Living Poor In Jim Wayne's World

Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville) writes a State of the Commonwealth address from the perspective of a single mother in Kentucky in today's Herald Leader. I have three suggestions for her. File for the Earned Income Tax Credit to ease your tax burden, file FAFSA and go back to school, and talk to your kids every day about how education will allow them to change their destiny. The liberal worldview holds that people are stuck like medieval serfs in the life they are born into. This is quite often not so in America. A woman in Wayne's scenario will have to go to extraordinary lengths to improve her life. In Liberal Land, however, it never happens. But unsung American heroines do it every day. I know. My mom did.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Freshman GOP'er Starts Off Right

After freshman Rep. Adam Koenig's tough primary win last May, he is going to have to be diligent on fiscal issues to avoid another GOP challenge in 2008. Handling crime issues with bills to toughen restrictions on perverts should buy him some good will.

Two Really Stupid Ideas At Front And Center

You work hard to provide health coverage for your family and John Edwards wants you to pay more so others don't have to work quite so hard.

The other one is global warming, of course. George Will does a nice job straightening this out. And a Canadian climatologist knocks it out of the park.

The welfare mentality and junk government-financed science are luxuries we should be able to dispense with in this enlightened information age. Getting from here to there really just involves enduring a few ridiculous personal attacks. It's worth the effort.

Will Utah Embrace Real School Choice First?

Utah's House of Representatives passed a universal school voucher bill Friday.

Hilary's Macaca Moment

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"I Will Make It Legal"

Some in the General Assembly are trying to cover their tracks from recent budget bill shenanigans. Harry Moberly's HB 184 even violates Section 55 of the Kentucky Constitution, which prohibits making laws effective retroactively.

RPK Lincoln Day 2007

Gov. Mitt Romney spoke Saturday night. His theme for the presidential run seems to be "America is the hope of the world." He was well received and word was circulating that he would be back for the 5th district Lincoln dinner in March. The focus was on the gubernatorial candidates, though. Senator McConnell had the best line of the night when he said he was going to state clearly who he was supporting. After a perfect pause that had a lot of people on the edge of their seats, he announced that he was for -- the Indianapolis Colts. Very funny.

What follows in the next three posts are some notes I made while the three candidates were speaking. The key to this primary will be the various factions coming together after the primary and working together to win the general election. I haven't seen much to give me confidence that we are moving in that direction. Hope that changes.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Anne Northup Speaks

This is clearly Anne's crowd in her hometown. Hardcore supporters of the Governor were conspicuous in not standing when she was introduced. There may be meaningful policy differences between the candidates, but on this first night of head-to-head speechmaking, it appears the campaign will be about other things. Among the three, Governor Fletcher spoke with the most energy. Northup's speech sounds much less like a campaign speech, but her theme is her background and her conservatism and principles. It seems like she is going out of her way not to throw red meat to what is clearly her crowd. No applause lines. One subtle swipe she has made twice is that Republicans must hold onto the Governor's Mansion or risk being overcome by big spending, over-regulating and over-taxing Democrats.

Billy Harper Speaks

Candidate Billy Harper's campaign workers have passed out "positive campaign" stickers to a few attendees. As he rose to speak, he received polite applause. After starting by quoting Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment, he moved on to education, saying that we need to expect more from our children. He says despite small improvements, we are failing in educating our children.

His call to end the AMC/LLET received polite applause. His campaign is based on his being an outsider, but on a night of accomplished speakers Billy Harper stands out as an unpolished speaker. He has no traction with this crowd at all.

Ernie Fletcher Speaks To RPK

Governor Fletcher was the first gubernatorial candidate to speak tonight. As he rose to address the Lincoln Day gathering of 1500 Republicans, he was greeted warmly by all and vigorously by some. The people at one table in the back started a chant of "Four more years" that was not picked up around the room. At various applause lines, those who stood and cheered seemed pretty sparse. The Governor took one shot at Northup, saying the race shouldn't be about electability but ideas.

Northup In Fletcher Country

Gubernatorial candidate Anne Northup came to Jessamine county to speak to a few active Republicans. She said she has nothing against Governor Fletcher and agrees with him on most issues -- except she is for repeal of the 'Alternative Minimum Tax' -- but she believes daily polling data from before last year's election and results received this week prove he just can't be re-elected. She said if the fall election is about scandals and pardons, Republicans lose.

Can the Louisville candidate put together enough of a statewide network to win in barely three and a half months? Does the 'he is good, but he can't win' approach pull enough primary voters to unseat the incumbent in May? As important as these questions are, the real one is can the primary winner pull the other camp in for the necessary support to win in November?

Assuming my technology holds up, I'll be live blogging the Lincoln dinner tonight in Louisville.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Feeding A Dead Dog: Kentucky Jails

Governor Fletcher says he plans to increase state funding for local jails.

Rather than continuing to pour too many tax dollars into incarceration, we really should have a serious discussion about privatizing jails.

Still Not Getting The Trouble With Social Security

A liberal Kentucky blogger this morning displays maddening devotion to the goofy bureaucratic idea that governments can take in tax money, spend it, count it as a loan to itself -- and therefore an asset -- and that none of this carried on at a rapid pace for years and years represents a crisis. And these are the same people who extrapolate a warm month or two into boiling oceans and Canadian tropics.

All this reminds me of gubernatorial wannabe Jonathan Miller and the moribund KAPT program. Keep swinging, guys.

As baby boomers and their children -- with their vast sums of stock market funds -- grow older, the inevitability of private accounts in Social Security scares them silly.

"The Vision Thing"

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Swept Under The Rug

The federal case surrounding the Fayette County Detention Center isn't getting headlines these days, but it is only getting worse. The liability for taxpayers will eventually be substantial. The biggest surprise is that Mayor Newberry isn't publicly addressing the problem.

It's not like he doesn't know about it.

Free Market Health Care? In Kentucky?

The state is working on putting out for bids the health insurance of the 262,000 children covered by Medicaid and KCHIP in Kentucky.

This should get folks upset before, during, and after it saves us some money.

More Fletcher Versus McConnell

Governor Fletcher proposed a tax break for a solid voting bloc and LG Steve Pence responded by saying the state budget surplus really isn't one.

Meanwhile, GOP donors report none of the gubernatorial campaigns are giving out specific polling data.

UPDATE: A Northup poll shows her even with Fletcher and with Harper way behind.