Thursday, January 31, 2008

Did Beshear Sell Judicial Appointment For $200?

Governor Steve Beshear just appointed John Chappell as a District Judge in the 27th district today. Chappell, a London attorney, filed to run for the office on December 12.

This wouldn't be the John Chappell, Attorney at Law, of London who contributed $200 to Scott Alexander's Senate campaign on January 19, would it? That wouldn't be good.

LONDON, KY, 40743
Occupation : ATTORNEY INDIVIDUAL Contribution
$200.00 on 01/19/2008
SPECIAL - 02/05/2008

The impropriety of the contribution and subsequent appointment aside, I would think two hundred bucks isn't very much money for this sort of thing. Do we really want this governor to be in charge of selling casino licenses?

Who Do You Want To Get Your Tax Rebate?

The federal government this spring is expected to send back tax dollars to taxpayers as an "economic stimulus." Whether you like the economic rationale or not, you probably would be interested in a bill to keep that money away from Governor Steve Beshear, wouldn't you? Well, here you go.

Fastest Political Flameout In History

Louisville's Chris Thieneman nuked himself this morning.

Steve Beshear's Unnecessary Tuition Increases

Governor Steve Beshear's proposal to cut Kentucky's merit-based KEES college scholarship program and maintain spending for need-based aid is probably going to be a disaster.

Just as the legislature is considering a measure to lower the GPA to renew KEES scholarships, the proper cost-saving move would be to increase standards for getting the awards. Instead, Beshear will probably cut all awards the same amount in the name of "fairness."

Doing this and in effect raising the proportion of aid that is award exclusively on the basis of not having enough money to pay for college is a sure way to exacerbate the inflation problem.

Nice job, Steve. What's next? (Oh yeah, public employee benefits...)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Steve Beshear's Going Out Of Business Sale

Looks like Attorney General Jack Conway has found a rug to sweep his and Governor Steve Beshear's problems under.

Do you have Skippy Miller under there already?

How about R.D. Hubbard?

Occupation : RACE TRACK OWNER INDIVIDUAL Contribution
$500.00 on 05/10/1999
PRIMARY - 05/25/1999


73-405 EL PASO #32D
PALM DESERT, CA, 922600000
$1,000.00 on 02/19/2003
PRIMARY - 05/20/2003


Employer :
Occupation : RETIRED INDIVIDUAL Contribution
$1,000.00 on 03/21/2007
PRIMARY - 05/22/2007


73-405 EL PASO #32D
Employer : RD HUBBARD
Occupation : DEVELOPER INDIVIDUAL Contribution
$1,000.00 on 04/16/2007
PRIMARY - 05/22/2007


73-405 EL PASEO NO. 32D
$10,000.00 on 11/30/2007
GENERAL - 11/06/2007


73-405 EL PASEO NO. 32D
PALM DESERT, CA, 922600000
$1,000.00 on 05/08/2007
PRIMARY - 05/22/2007


73-405 EL PASEO NO. 32D
PALM DESERT, CA, 922600000
$1,000.00 on 10/17/2007
GENERAL - 11/06/2007


73-405 EL PASEO / NO. 32D
PALM DESERT, CA, 922604214
$1,000.00 on 10/10/2006
GENERAL - 11/07/2006

Second Time's A Charm?

Governor Ernie Fletcher's campaign against casino gambling wasn't going to work for reasons that had little or nothing to do with casino gambling.

The Senate 30 special election may not prove anything about casinos, either, but the race may turn out differently.

Have you seen this commercial (airing now in the district)?

This Is Probably Going To Be Quote Of The Day

Senate Bill 3 just got voted out of the State and Local Government Committee with amendments to add Kentucky to Super Tuesday in presidential primary elections and to remove the emergency clause so its provisions wouldn't take effect this year. Speaking for the bill, Senate President David Williams said:
"The main thing is that we have more transparency and accountability in the process."

Couldn't agree more. But if we really want transparency, we also need government expenditure transparency.

Steve Beshear Keeps A Campaign Promise

And it is going to cost you a bundle.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ron Bishop Thinks He Isn't Going To Jail

FCDC Director Ron Bishop and his storm troopers in the Lexington jail think they have found their fall guys and are immune from criminal prosecution.

Well, they should think again. Ask your attorney down there on Main Street to explain this to you, fellas.

From Lexington-Fayette County Ordinance Number 255-94,1,12-13-94:
Sec. 25-29. Reprisals against persons disclosing violations prohibited.
(1) No officer or employee shall subject to reprisal, or directly or indirectly use, or threaten to use, any official authority or influence, in any manner whatsoever, which tends to discourage, restrain, depress, dissuade, deter, prevent, interfere with, coerce, or discriminate against any officer or employee who in good faith reports, discloses, divulges, or otherwise brings to the attention of the ethics commission, any law enforcement agency or its employees, or any other appropriate body or authority, anyfacts or information relative to an actual or suspected violation of any law, statute, executive order, administrative regulation, mandate, rule, or ordinance of the United States, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, or the urban county government, or any facts or information relative to actual or suspected mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. No officer or employee shall be required to give notice prior to making such a report, disclosure, or divulgence.
(2) No officer or employee shall subject to reprisal or discriminate against, or use any official authority or influence to cause reprisal or discrimination by others against, any person who supports, aids, or substantiates any officer or employee who makes public any wrongdoing set forth in subsection (1) of this section.

Penalties for violation include a fine and up to one year in jail.

Beshear Hints At Cutting Pension Benefits

In an advance copy of Governor Steve Beshear's budget address, he says he will offer a state employee pension reform proposal "in the coming weeks."

"What we can do now is address the increasing costs. These programs are not sustainable at current levels," Beshear said.

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Sounds like Rep. Fred Nesler just filed the cigarette tax bill to save us all.

10:00 pm Update: No, it was a false alarm. Stay tuned for tax increases though.

Jason Mays Versus United Auto Workers

Looks like the hottest ideological battle in central Kentucky among the 2008 state House races will be between pro-union Rep. Charlie Hoffman and former Georgetown College assistant basketball coach Jason Mays.

With non-union Toyota the economic engine of the district, a strong campaign against Majority Caucus Chairman Hoffman could get interesting.

And with Hoffman filing bills like this, Mays should be able to get a lot of help.

Busted, Now Pay Up

Governor Steve Beshear got caught breaking a campaign promise not to misuse state aircraft and now he is saying he will pay for it.

Is the check in the mail, Governor?

Maybe we should require the Executive Branch to set up a website to help us keep track of their expenditures of state money for political or personal purposes.

You know, like illegal raises for girlfriends and such.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Larry, Moe, and Curly Can't Find The Microphone

Harassment by top officials at the Fayette County Detention Center against some employees who have testified in the wage and hours class action lawsuit may be about to unleash a fresh batch of lawsuits.

Watch yourself, Mr. Kammer.

(And a personal note to Bishop, Leach, and Kammer: watching you guys try to figure out where I am getting my information is hilarious! Keep trying if you want, but you will NEVER figure it out until I am ready for you to figure it out. Fun stuff...)

Thieneman Versus Northup Day One

Congressional candidate Chris Thieneman said today he is against slipping earmarks into legislative bills.

Closing Libraries In Casino-Rich Illinois

Evanston, on Chicago's North Shore, should be close enough to the economic development opportunites brought by casinos that they would be swimming in cash by now.

Alas, it isn't so. They are negotiating instead how to get by on a combination of property tax increases and spending cuts, which include closing two public libraries.

Governor Steve Beshear is expected to lay out part of his plan tomorrow night to make Kentucky a rich casino state like Illinois.

One other interesting proposed cut I found was this one:
Carroll said she hopes to save $300,000 by dropping a contract with a health insurance brokerage firm and having the city negotiate health coverage contracts directly.

Why on earth is a city the size of Pikeville paying anyone $300,000 to help them pick out health insurance plans?

This is why I think a good solid fiscal crisis would be a great thing for Kentucky. Getting all the various interest groups to stop ravaging the taxpayers and to, instead, start in on each other is not only more fun than watching demolition derby, it is the only way we are going to get things out in the open and start cutting out the real waste.

Beshear Can't Even Lead On Dental Exams

A Lexington Herald-Leader story about a bill to require parents to get dental exams for their children exposes yet again Governor Steve Beshear's unwillingness to provide any of the "leadership" he promised before he was elected.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is still reviewing the legislation and declined to comment, through a spokesperson.

The bill is less than one sentence long. It requires -- in addition to the pre-existing mandate for immunizations -- the following:
... a dental health certificate from a dentist licensed in any state indicating the health of the child's teeth, jaws, and mouth.

Beshear is really taking his do-nothingism too far. At this rate, I can't wait to see him tackle anything like the public employee benefits disaster. Slots at the tracks, right Steve?

By the way, the story indicates a reporter tried in vain to reach Senate President David Williams for his opinion. That was unneccesary. The same bill died in a Senate committee just last year.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

You May Not Know Gordon B. Hinckley Yet...

Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, died tonight.

This just happened so it will be a little slow getting out in the news, but when it does it will stir up discussion again about presidential candidate Mitt Romney's faith.

A lot of people will be surprised by the national media coverage Hinckley's death will receive. He was very media savvy, a great interview, and was highly regarded by national media figures.

At this point in the race, it will be very interesting to see the impact a renewed focus on religion will have.

Make Way For Chris Thieneman

Former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup should resist the temptation to try to get her old seat in Congress back. Republicans already have Chris Thieneman, the man behind the effort to kill the Louisville Library Tax.

There is no way to change the old ways of Congress without new faces.

Norquist: Tax Increase To Smash Savings

Rep. Ben Chandler's favorite tax watchdog has an interesting take on the latest fiscal stimulus package and the coming tax increase that you probably haven't heard.

Senate President Trumps Governor

Internal polling shows Rep. Brandon Smith, a Republican, winning Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo's old Senate seat on Tuesday, February 5.

This will make Senate President David Williams more powerful than Governor Steve Beshear.

Williams should use his new power to push for government transparency, less welfare for drug abusers, and repeal of bad business taxes.

Republicans in power continue to shirk their fiscally responsible, better government mandates, though. Now is the time to reverse that trend.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Improving Kentucky's Welfare Policy Would Be A Great Way To Salvage Our Culture

Does it really make sense to you that we buy illicit drugs for Kentuckians and ask for nothing in return?

That is exactly what we do every time welfare recipients buy crack or abuse prescription drugs. If we subsidize their housing or their healthcare or food and they direct their limited funds toward illegal drugs, how are we not at the very least complicit in their drug problem?

The General Assembly already has a solution in front of it. The constitutional issues can be dealt with easily.

Another suggestion is requiring anyone who signs up for benefits to consent to random, periodic drug testing when they first request help.

How hard is it to understand that by incentivizing irresponsibility among our most vulnerable citizens that we are damaging ourselves voluntarily?

Tax Cutters In Paradise

Well, not exactly. There are two tax cut bills in Frankfort (here and here) and neither one has much chance of getting past House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly.

While reasonable people can disagree, though, on the value of cutting taxes and making government smaller, how in the world can they shut down the one commonsense bill that would allow taxpayers to know where the money is going?

I'd really like to know.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Third Word In GED Isn't Diploma

Rep. Frank Rasche has a plan to dramatically reduce the number of high school drop-outs in Kentucky that sounds suspiciously like we are about to be paying people to hand out GEDs in convenience stores.

HB 294, which the House should vote on next week, sets a goal to lower the drop-out rate and the number of adult dropouts dramatically by 2010 mainly by throwing money around.

If we were talking about doing something new (for us) like raising standards in middle schools -- and we're not -- that would be one thing. But this plan is just more of the same feel-good nonsense from the education bureaucracy.

Poultry Alert: Chickens Coming Home To Roost

This morning former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac is being deposed about her role in the Fayette County Detention Center scandal.

This will be one hot transcript when it becomes available because she will have to come clean about some factual misstatements she made in the news media about this mess.

Current Mayor Jim Newberry gets his turn in two weeks.

Where Are The Taxpayers' Lobbyists?

Today is Day 13 of the legislators' strike in Kentucky. Meanwhile, taxpayers continue to pay them (and their pensions continue to grow) while we all wait for the candidate filing deadline to pass.

And it is apparently too much to ask that one effort to give taxpayers a break receive the consideration it deserves.

House Bill 221, which would simply make people stop spending public money to buy illegal drugs, is exactly the kind of thing we need to be looking at now.

The bill needs a little work, but there is no reason not to move forward on this.

I call this bill the "Make Junkies Move To Other States Act of 2008."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It Could Be Worse

Massachusetts is in the middle of busting its biennial socialized medicine state budget by $650 million. We can be thankful Kentucky's budget is already busted past the point of this kind of social engineering.

Like P.J. O'Rourke said, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."

An unhealthy shortage of good economics

The House of Representatives just passed a bill that would remove the cap on the number of beauty school licenses issued in the state. It is amazing that we can do that and risk a proliferation of hair cutters all over Kentucky, but we can't also allow an expansion of medical services by repealing Certificate of Need.

I guess they are saying to enjoy your cheaper haircuts in Kentucky, but don't get sick.

A Heaping Helping Of Gun Control

Now we have an answer to our one good gun bill this year: two fascistic gun control bills.

Giving The Governor A Year To Write Budget

One House bill and one Senate bill would enable a newly-elected Governor to take a year to put up his first budget proposal.

They are both constitutional amendments which would make odd-numbered year General Assembly sessions the ones in which we pass biennial budgets. Both bills strive to limit spending and revenue increasing bills, but the House bill does a much better job.

The Senate bill requires a three-fifths vote in both chambers to raise revenue or appropriate funds in non-budget years. The General Assembly almost always passes all these bills by very comfortable margins, often unanimously. So really, SB 105 goes to the trouble of changing the Constitution only to give a new Governor a full year before he has to present a budget proposal and to give that new Governor expanded powers to set the legislative agenda.

The House bill is much better. It cuts the 60-day sessions down to thirty days and prohibits appropriation and revenue bills from being passed in the even-numbered years.

House Dem Leadership Must Be Crazy

This is proof Jody Richards and friends learned nothing from the insurance debacle they created in 1994 in Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scorsone Drives In The Wrong Lane

Sen. Ernesto Scorsone has filed another bill to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens.

West Virginia Zooms Ahead Of Us

While Kentucky is figuring out how to promise education-related goodies we can't afford, West Virginia is setting itself up to kick our butts by simply raising math standards.

West Virginia will require some students who are already in high school -- and everyone, hereafter -- to earn four math credits in four years of high school.

This compares very favorably to Kentucky, where starting next year students will be required to take four math classes in four years but they only have to pass three of them.

Our shocking tolerance for failure here will be of little comfort when even West Virginia is eating our lunch.

Let Me Guess, She Wants More Money For Big Ed

Newly-elected Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington reaped a benefit this morning of donating $1000 to Steve Beshear when she was appointed to a vice-chair position on the House Education Committee.

She faces Republican Will Terwort in the May primary.

Immigration Showdown At High Noon

There will be fireworks today in the House Judiciary Committee as they take up a discussion of bill that would prohibit sanctuary cities in Kentucky and shut down some employers who hire illegal aliens.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ron Paul Supporter Takes On Mitch McConnell

Daniel Essek can beat his brains out from here to May and he will lose to Sen. Mitch McConnell in the primary election. Mitch won't break a sweat, but that isn't the point.

The battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party rages on. Mr. Essek clearly isn't ready for prime time, but for a return to fiscal responsibility on the federal level to ever happen it will have to start someplace.

Thanks to tv blogger Mark Hebert for the heads-up.

End The Legislators' Strike

I can't find anyone with a good argument against Sen. David Williams' bill to move the filing deadline to after the end of the General Assembly.

In fact, here is one very active opponent of Republicans in general who is on board. Where are the rest of you?

My only question is will Speaker Jody Richards run this bill through the Labor & Industry Committee since it involves making the lawmakers work for their money an extra month every other year?

Bad Day For The Bald Guy

I'm trying to find a silver lining in the withdrawal of Fred Thompson from the presidential race, but not having much luck.

Any help?

2008: Year Of The Discharge Petition

Committee chairmen can kill bills by not bringing them up for discussion, but sponsors of the University Gun Bill and the Welfare for Drug Abusers Bill easily have the 25 supporters required to call a vote on a discharge petition in the House. If 51 members vote for overriding the committee action, the bill in question goes to the House floor for a vote.

While we are at it, the Ernie Fletcher Revenue Neutral Tax Increase Bill needs a discharge petition as well. And given Harry Moberly's affinity for government secrecy, we might as well go ahead and file one for the Government Transparency Bill.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Associated Press Botches Drug Bill Debate

UPDATE: Here is a little help on this issue from the Bluegrass Institute.


The Associated Press picked up the bipartisan House effort to encourage drug abusers on welfare to stop using drugs or risk losing their welfare benefits.

The dismissive tone of the article is a little over-the-top, starting with the headline: "Welfare proposal has few fans."

The article fails to mention there are actually two bills (here and here) and only gets around to interviewing one of the sponsors. Napier's version has 27 co-sponsors.

I think what the Associated Press reporter meant was that he and Tom Burch don't like the bill.

Rep. Tom Burch should be the focus of this story for killing a commonsense measure to get people off drugs.

Instead, we get more of the mentality that hasn't worked for decades in fighting poverty or drug abuse:
The measure, House Bill 190, is languishing in the House Health and Welfare Committee. Committee Chairman Tom Burch, D-Louisville, said he doesn't intend to call it up for consideration.

"I don't think it's a good bill, and I don't think the intention behind it is good," Burch said. "Let's get treatment for the person rather than penalize the whole family."

House Republicans should easily be able to peel off enough Democrats for a discharge petition to work on this one. For the record, Napier co-sponsored Henley's bill. Let the Democrat's bill go through and get this done.

Steve Beshear Is No Scab

It is as if the legislators in Frankfort are on strike and Steve Beshear is no scab.

The Lexington Herald Leader reports:
Beshear says his aides are still trying to nail down details of the casino plan and the retirement system reform and that his time is consumed by crafting a budget proposal.

The delay in the unveiling of those policies is practical -- not a political stalling tactic to make it past the candidate filing deadline, Beshear insists.

"It's not geared to the filing deadline, it's simply geared to the fact that right now we're in the middle of putting this budget together," he said. "That's our top priority, obviously, because I've got to do that by the 29th and we're working on these other things at the same time. It's just a product of the time that we've got."

That's bunk. Everyone on Team Beshear has had a pretty good idea details of the casino plan and problems with the retirement plan and crafting a budget proposal were going to be issues for them to work on since last May.

The Governor Steve Beshear-as-slacker routine has everything to do with the January 29 filing deadline.

Giuliani Panders In Florida

As if one Republican presidential candidate with a bad insurance plan weren't enough, Rudy weighs in.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sing, Sing A Song, Sing Out Loud, Sing Out Strong

Former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac will be deposed regarding her role in the Fayette County Detention Center scandal on Friday, January 25 at 9:30 am.

Mayor Jim Newberry is up Tuesday, February 8.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fayette Jail Scandal Hits The Radio On Monday

Busy Monday morning coming up for me. I will be on the Jack Pattie Show on 590 AM WVLK in Lexington at 9:00 talking about the legislature and Leland Conway's show on 630 AM at 11 AM talking about the scandal at the Fayette County Detention Center.

Anyone with a story to tell about the problems at the jail should email me at

City of Lexington Buying Bogus Diplomas

I'm doing some research into the "consulting" business Ray Sabbatine and Donald Leach are running out of the Fayette County Detention Center and the taxpayer money they are using to line their own pockets.

Accidentally came across one little goody: Lexington taxpayers paid for Leach's fake doctoral degree.

Big House Democrat Tax Increase Bill

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce send out an email yesterday afternoon claiming Rep. Harry Moberly's HB 302 would increase taxes by up to $200 million a year.

That may be a good guess, but if you look at the bill it isn't hard to imagine it's impact might be much more severe. The bill punishes companies who do business in other states for doing business in Kentucky. Nice plan, Chairman Moberly.

Harry Moberly is one great big reason I won't be sending any of my kids to Eastern Kentucky University.

Friday, January 18, 2008

You Can't Block This

The city of Lexington has ended their feeble attempt to block this blog on city computers.

It is starting to dawn on the folks at 200 East Main Street that the Justice Department investigation and the class action and civil lawsuits aren't just going to go away.

Can't imagine why anyone in the Mayor's office would think they could finesse all this stuff as easily as they can scam the Lexington Herald Leader.

Just ask Ron Bishop, Don Leach, and the boys and girls at the Fayette County Detention Center. They are a little further along the learning curve.

Stroke Of Genius Meets Good Public Policy

Senate President David Williams has filed a bill to move the candidate filing deadline forward to April. This eliminates the problem of legislators sitting on their hands during the first month of the General Assembly and forces legislators to get off the fence about casino gambling before campaign opponents have to file to run against them.

Smoke-Filled Media Bias At Herald Leader

Amazing how the Lexington Herald Leader can watch a parade of House and Senate Democrats chase their tails on the puffery of just one little old cigarette tax increase and see a gathering storm of support in "Cigarette tax hike gains traction."

This story could more accurately be headlined "House Dems fiddle while Frankfort burns."

The newspaper story didn't even mention the one group of cooler heads who have already decided this issue. The Senate Republicans said no tax increase. Well, maybe just one.

Revenues keep going up in Frankfort. Spending keeps going up faster. Raising taxes, it should stand to reason, isn't the answer here. If we really want to take a step in the right direction, we will start talking about transparency in our state government.

Still Looking For Ways To Cut Spending

Since people are going to gamble anyway, there really is no need to allow the state lottery to spend money on advertising or marketing, right?

A Better Idea For Improving Schools

Before attacking House Minority Whip Stan Lee for joining Speaker Jody Richards' effort to limit the state to one charter school -- in Bowling Green, of course -- I called him seeking an explanation.

Rep. Lee says he is working a charter school bill for all the state. That is a very good thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Unexpected Twist On Blog Blockergate 2008

Didn't see this one coming.

Sources are reporting that the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government has blocked this website on city computers.

I can't get into it now, but the timing of this cowardly action is VERY interesting. Stay tuned.

And any city workers reading from home who have information about Mayor Newberry's role in the various city scandals or in the mess at the Fayette County Detention Center can reach me at

Still waiting to hear what the Beshear blog blocking policy will be.

Taking Care Of Their Own

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

And no, I don't care nearly as much about the Chandler hiring as it is not against the law.

Attorney General Jack Conway, where are you?

Nine Minutes To See What America Needs

Much, much less government spending. Hillary and Obama won't do it. Rudy and Mitt won't either.

The Comptroller General of the United States says we are screwed by 2040, when the federal government will only have the money to operate Social Security and Medicaid. Go back to sleep, though. There is no crisis.

How About A Kentucky Stimulus Package?

Harry Moberly has not just one, but two bills designed to stick it to corporations.

Many of the rest of our legislators are looking for ways to enable more economic opportunity for our citizens.

Like Jim DeCesare.

Rather than work up incentive packages for some companies to do business here, shouldn't we just get rid of corporate taxes and let the government live off the taxes created by the new businesses, new employees, and improved economy?

Paying For Democracy One Addict At A Time

Senate Bill 5, the "Crowded Field Bill" which passed the Senate yesterday should be killed in the House. We can easily pay for the extra elections by enacting this bill.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

That Sneaky Obama Is At It Again!

KY Educrats, Your Bathtub Awaits

Education Commissioner Jon Draud, in a letter to Governor Steve Beshear, bemoans the fact that state spending on the Kentucky Department of Education has dropped from $31.7 million in FY 2002 to $24.3 million in FY 2007.

Sounds like we are headed in the right direction.

But this line at the end of the letter takes the cake:
Kentucky has shown real progress over the past decade and a half, and strong, steady funding is the key to maintaining that progress.

Besides the fact "strong, steady funding" is bureaucratspeak for annual funding increases, there is no convincing evidence that public schools have "shown real progress" in recent years or that funding increases are "the key to maintaining" that illusory progress.

Cough Up A Lung On Your Own Dime

Rather than raising cigarette taxes to give politicians more money to play with, wouldn't it be simpler to exclude from receiving Medicaid benefits or state aid anyone who smokes cigarettes or uses tobacco products?

This Isn't The "Taxpayer Transparency" We Need

Rep. Harry Moberly came under intense fire last year for trying to hide more legislative actions behind closed doors. After seeing that, it was surprising to see him file a bill yesterday to open up the secretive "economic development" process by requiring the Cabinet for Economic Development to provide information to the legislature upon request. That could be a good thing.

But you have to read the whole bill, which includes this:
(3) Information that shall be provided upon request includes:
(a) Any information acquired from any records of the Department of Revenue, but excluding the taxpayer's name ...

I don't know about you, but I'm not at all comfortable with the idea of Harry Moberly being allowed to legally pore over my state tax returns with just my name blacked out.

In case you don't get my objection, let me ask you this: how many taxpayers live at your address?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Et tu, Senator Borders?

It was bad enough when House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly filed a bill last week to raise the expensive Limited Liability Entity Tax, but today the Senate Budget Chairman Charlie Borders filed exactly the same bill with his name on it.

You are copying homework off the wrong guy there, Senator Borders.

Now that Republicans are on board, this must be another one of those "revenue-neutral tax increases" we love so much.

If you are keeping score at home, candidate Steve Beshear promised to support repeal -- not expansion -- of the LLET and keeps saying Kentucky doesn't need tax increases.

Are you watching this, Governor?

Putting Governor Steve Beshear To The Test

Why wouldn't Governor Beshear have the courage to sign an executive order Kentuckians of all political stripes want him to sign?

And no, it's not casinos.

Physician, Heal Thyself

What in the world are we doing waiting around for a bunch of career politicians to fix their own pension disaster when all they have done for decades is show a prodigious and embarrassing appetite for gorging themselves on our tax dollars?

First thing, they must repeal this bill. Here's more from BIPPS, including the soon-to-be state legislator with the highest "high three."

Preventing Courier Journal Embarrassment

You have got to the kidding me! Read this, from today's Louisville Courier Journal editorial page:

The current budget crisis is really a test of what legislative independence has become. For more than 30 years, lawmakers pushed for control. Now they have it. But when it comes to the budget, they squander it.

One frustrated legislative staffer recently described how some members operate. He fumed, "Once upon a time, you didn't even have to tell (legislator's name withheld to prevent embarrassment) what was in the budget. Now you have to give him a state park to get him to vote for it."

It's nothing new to see the Louisville Courier Journal (newspaper's name not withheld to maximize embarrassment) carry water for another bloated state legislator, but this is ridiculous and precisely why we need more government transparency than the bloated class wants to allow us now.

He Likes Mike (Huckabee)

Chuck Norris will be on Leland Conway's radio show this morning at 11:35 talking about what he will do to you if you aren't for Mike Huckabee.

You can listen on 630AM WLAP or just click here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Governor Underwhelmer

Wasn't ANYONE impressed with the Beshear State of the Commonwealth speech?

We Can't Be Broke, We Still Have Checks!

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee will discuss HB 87 tomorrow. The bill would give $20 million from the General Fund to tobacco farmers.

Who's Your News Daddy?

In our poll-driven world, the news that Fox News has overtaken CNN as a most-trusted news source will upset some people.

Do the math, though, and you will see CNN actually came in third. Number two was my favorite "None of the Above."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fayette Jail Shake-Up On The Way

The Pepto Bismol is flowing tonight around the Fayette County Detention Center amid intense speculation Director Ron Bishop will be forced out by the end of the month.

It gets better.

Number two man, Deputy Director Donald Leach is coming under fire for consulting work he has done the last couple of years on the strength of a Doctorate in Public Administration degree awarded to him in 2005 from a reputed mail-order diploma mill.

Why Kentucky Needs Independent Blogs

I don't know whether to be totally shocked or well, not, that the Lexington Herald Leader would do an expose on Kentucky jails today and completely ignore the disastrous Fayette County Detention Center in their own back yard.

Chronicles of Blarney

The Louisville Courier-Journal digs into its archives this morning to point out that they knew two years ago that Kentucky was dramatically overspending tax money.
Based on the comments by Fletcher and his budget team, a Courier-Journal story published on April 24, 2006, said:

"Unless the state's economy grows at a much higher-than-normal rate -- and much higher than projected -- lawmakers in 2008 will not have money for teacher raises, university improvements or other funding increases without raising revenue or making painful spending cuts in other areas."

Perhaps they would have been able to find that story faster if their archives from those days weren't loaded up with stories about merit hiring and other much less important issues than blowing tax money.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Could Have Saved Them The Fifty Cents

The Lexington Herald Leader's Michelle Ku has filed an open records request for FCDC Director Ron Bishop's training records which were reported on here.

Michelle, make sure you look at both copies of the training report -- the one that shows Bishop with a zero and the second one with his name scrubbed off completely to avoid attention.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Kentucky Schools Can't Afford Union Thugs

... or prevailing wage.

Governor Steve Beshear is finding it necessary to dump his other grandiose campaign promises. Now that organized labor leaders helped get him elected, what are they going to do? Vote for a Republican?

Kentucky can't afford to carry these guys around. Unfortunately, Beshear is going to have to submit to the union-ectomy willingly, which is something he shows no signs of being ready for. While we wait, we can take comfort in the fact that his idea of collective bargaining for state employees has already been tossed in the trash.

Pol Brings Dull Pencil To Online Battle Of Words

Rep. Charlie Hoffman makes national news for proposing a very stupid law.

Ed Worley's Tax You More Fund

Polwatchers reports Sen. Ed Worley is ready to increase the cigarette tax to raise revenue rather than focus on cutting spending. I guess it would really be news if Worley, a non-smoker, came out in favor of taxing ill-gotten gains at a higher rate but, until then, maybe some of these big taxers should go for the Tax Me More Fund.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winning Kentucky's Fiscal Responsibility War

State House members of both parties are already talking about filing a discharge petition to force a floor vote on Rep. Jim DeCesare's bill to repeal the very expensive Limited Liability Entity Tax.

When he was a candidate, Governor Steve Beshear promised to support repeal of the tax.

Beshear Gambling Strategy Exposed

Senator Tom Buford said today Governor Steve Beshear invited him to his office and spoke with him about taking a job in the administration.

Buford refused.

Will it be Beshear the Repealer?

House Leadership yesterday quietly assigned a bill that is very important both politically and fiscally to the Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

House Bill 26 would repeal the Limited Liability Entity Tax, also known as the Alternative Minimum Calculation signed into law by Governor Ernie Fletcher and hated by businesses paying the tax.

And if Governor Steve Beshear is really in a repealing and money-saving mood, he should support the effort to shut down the Treasurer's office, too.

Mortgaging Nonsense in Kentucky

The General Assembly has three bills so far attempting to address a problem with mortgage loans. I can't find much in this, this, or this we wouldn't be better off just leaving alone. In fact, it seems to me that if what we really want to do is make things worse, passing these bills would be a pretty good way to start.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

We Have To At Least Get This Right

Everything has a price. When we try to use government to escape that universal truth, we invite unintended problems.

Don't imagine we will do anything good by forcing people to pay more for their car insurance because they have good credit.

A Good Way To Have More Spending Money

Now that the General Assembly and Governor are on the same page about cutting spending (ha!), perhaps they really should look at prohibiting the Kentucky Lottery from spending any of its revenue on advertising.

People are going to gamble anyway, right?

Kathy Stein's Inconvenient Sex Talk

Rep. Kathy Stein wants schools to back off just telling kids not to have sex and instead to give them "science-based" contraception instruction.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Providing Educational Opportunities For A Few

House Speaker Jody Richards wasted no time refiling his bill to legalize Kentucky's illegal charter school at Western Kentucky University.

Come on, guys. Wouldn't it be easier to let all of Kentucky have access to the innovative teaching a handful of students are now getting illegally?

All we have to do is make charter schools legal in the state.

From The "It's About Time" Department

Rep. Lonnie Napier filed a bill today to deny state aid or food stamps to adult drug abusers.

Mayor Newberry, At Least Take His Car Keys

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry may be content to watch the Fayette County Detention Center melt down under federal investigations and civil lawsuits. But if he is not going to do anything substantial, he should at least park FCDC Director (and Louisville resident) Ron Bishop's city car and let him take care of his own transportation like the employees who don't break the law do.

Did I mention Director Ron Bishop didn't complete ANY of his required 2007 training and then tried to cover it up?

Defining Education Reform For 21st Century

Kentucky's education establishment went ballistic yesterday over the mere suggestion they might have to take less money in the next budget to deliver their mediocre results.

The need to change the way we discuss education reform is not unrelated to the many problems in overcrowded county jails throughout the state.

Bureaucrats may be satisfied with papering over Kentucky's dropout problem, but yesterday's high school graduates -- in large numbers -- are today sleeping on the floor in county jails.

With the current push among the education crowd to shift more resources toward early childhood education, we have what amounts to a crass diversion from real problems in favor of spending on a new program several years removed from accountability.

New laws to force students to stay in school against their will are just the opposite side of the same coin.

We can't afford these games any longer.

Middle school is where we are losing our kids. When they give up in middle school, they too often start using drugs and drop out of high school. These are the people filling up our jails.

We don't need more tax money for teachers unions and bureaucrats nearly as much as we need to concentrate our efforts where they benefit kids more than the bureaucrats.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The People Want To Vote On Cutting Spending

Shutting down the state Treasurer's office as a rest area for politicians is a good thing to be thinking about the night before the 2008 General Assembly starts up.

SurveyUSA Calls Kentucky For Huckabee

...but they left off Fred Thompson and John Edwards from their polling.

Owensboro Gets State Pension Disaster

The levy has broken on the state employee benefits plans and some people are starting to really pay attention.

I'll be impressed, though, when I see pressure to cut back on the healthy slab of pork lawmakers cut for some of their pals back in 2005.

Update: Ashland gets it, too. Keep them coming!

Volunteering For Less

Tennessee may be about to lower part of their state merit scholarship standard to ease up on some of their failing students. They might want to notice, though, Kentucky requires even less of their students than Tennessee is talking about dropping to and gets almost an identical failure rate.

Kentucky policymakers should pay attention to this. It would make a lot of sense to pursue raising the minimum GPA for our college students to keep their KEES awards. As we pursue the lofty goal of doubling our number of college graduates, anything we can do to prevent dumbing-down has to be considered. We might even accidentally incentivize a little less drinking and drug use on campus.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Courier Journal Attacks Steve Beshear

... for not wanting to raise taxes.

Prioritizing our spending is the way out of this. Government transparency is the first step to recovery.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Someone Needs To Wake Up Jim Newberry

Surely it has been too cold for Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry to putter around on golf courses. Perhaps he has been hanging out at bowling alleys or at some of Lexington's "gentleman's clubs" while the city's jail is collapsing under corrupt leadership.

Will someone please, please wake up Mayor Jim Newberry.

We caught Director Ron Bishop earlier this week scrubbing his name off the 2007 FCDC training roster after failing to complete any of the required training.

Well, now the detention center employees union is working on a case to exempt its members who didn't complete their training from any kind of reprimand. The entire basis of their case is that the director didn't get his training, so they can't be punished since he won't be. Sounds like a fine way to risk the safety of the community all in the name of covering Ron Bishop's behind.

Are you getting any of this, Mayor Newberry?

Let's Sell All Our School Buses

We have a state budget crisis, escalating gas prices, and too many parents who aren't involved enough in their childrens' education.

Let's sell off all the school buses and use half the savings to give teachers huge raises. In exchange for the raises, teachers will have to give up tenure and allow their defined benefit pension plan to be converted to defined contribution.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Can Beshear Walk His Talk?

Governor Beshear is saying some good things about spending cuts right now.

The real challenge will be for him to let us help keep him honest with spending transparency. And then he gets to really do something about the state employee benefits disaster.

Presidential Google Search Fun

We all say stupid things sometimes, but Mike Huckabee's mouth will ultimately run him out of his big race.

For just one example, try googling "Huckabee Satan" for an interesting theological discussion.

Jody Richards' Come To Jesus Meeting

I was a guest on the Leland Conway Show this morning, telling Leland about the government transparency movement.

Leland said he will have House Speaker Jody Richards on the program next Tuesday at 10:15 and will ask him about this. There's your heads up, Mr. Speaker.

The Senate needs to get to work on this as well.

BIPPS Offers Pension Mess Advice

The bill with the most lasting impact in the 2008 session hasn't been filed yet and may not be filed. That bill will be the one that seriously addresses the $28 billion public employee benefits emergency.

The Bluegrass Institute's Jim Waters jumps on previous politicians for punting the ball on this and offers commonsense actions:

Irresponsible governance created the under-funded crisis in the first place. The system paid the price for self-serving politicians to fund local pork and win the next election instead of properly funding the retirement accounts.

Now lawmakers – particularly House and Senate leaders – must think beyond short-term political gains that come from doing nothing. If they don’t, we’re looking at either a massive tax increase or a bankrupt commonwealth.

The commission offered some worn ideas on how to shore up the under-funded accounts, including the credit-card approach of borrowing money. But it mentioned nothing about lengthening the time state employees must work before drawing cushy benefits or changing the benefits structure for future hires – two areas that legislators absolutely must address.

We didn’t need a commission to recommend a rope-a-dope approach – including more study, yes, more study! – in order to conclude that requiring employees to work only 27 years before they draw a Cadillac benefits package for life creates a bottomless pit of spending.

You can read the whole thing here. This is the problem that is consuming the Beshear administration right now. It should be.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

David's Blue Ribbon Commission On Pensions

We need to quickly phase out the Kentucky Retirement Systems and replace the whole cesspool with index mutual funds.

We need to put all new hires into defined contribution plans and eliminate health insurance for any new non-Medicare retirees not currently in the system.

We need to phase out legislative pensions.

We need to lower the legal limit on executive branch employment to 30,000 jobs and end the practice of double-dipping -- and end the practice of suspending the limit on executive branch employment.

Any other suggestions?

Harry Moberly Hasn't Learned His Lesson

Education commissioner Jon Draud says House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly told him he may be able to bust the Kentucky Department of Education budget in 2009.

Here is the quote (found here):
"Even though we don’t have a good financial picture (for 2008-10), I’m going to be active over there," he said. "(House A&R Committee Chairman) Harry Moberly has promised me that if the economy improves, we may be able to come back in the second year of the biennium for more funding for education."

Now do you see why we really need to be able to watch these people like hawks?

We're Off To See The Kruser

I'll be on Lexington radio this afternoon at 1 pm talking about the upcoming General Assembly. That's 590 on your AM dial and, if you are so inclined, 859-253-5959 is the call-in number.

Putting Their Mouths Where Our Money Is

Every legislator worth a sound bite is talking about being fiscally responsible these days.

I'll believe it when they get rid of the provision of this 2005 law that allows them to resign from the legislature and take a brief stint elsewhere in state government worth a huge pension boost.

The offensive -- and expensive -- goody was slipped in by a Senate committee and approved by a voice vote. Governor Fletcher allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

Several good legislators voted against this. Won't one of them file a bill to repeal it?

Call it the David Williams/J.R. Gray/Steve Nunn/Dan Mongiardo/Harry Moberly/Greg Stumbo bill.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Like Poop In A Sandbox

How many times have you heard that the cover-up is worse than the crime?

Perhaps Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop would have done well to hear it one more time before he scrubbed his name off the facility's training roster.

You see, Bishop didn't complete ANY of his 2007 required training. And apparently, he didn't want anyone to know about it.

In a city with legitimate leadership, Bishop would be long-since fired.

Time To Audit Big Ed

The hubbub over the Auditor's performance audit of Medicaid has died down. It's now time to do one of the Kentucky Department of Education.

But there's no way I would trust the partisan Auditor to do the job. We need to hire an outside firm for this one. The accounting at KDE is so bad that any honest efficiency report writers would have a field day sorting through their mess.

Throwing (Jerry) Down The Gauntlet

Page One Kentucky promises to lay the smackdown on Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson in 2008 and suggests their information is the reason he didn't get in the race for governor.

Meanwhile, the Lexington Herald Leader wants to see Abramson's running mate, Rep. Ben Chandler, act a little more like Al Gore.

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler: Follow the path of another Albert. Use your popularity to illuminate inconvenient truths.

Yeah, I'd like to see that too.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fixing Things In 2008

An income tax on businesses with no income is always going to be a bad idea.

Let's kill it.

And after we do that, perhaps we should reconsider the wisdom of dropping 500,000 low-income Kentuckians from state tax rolls, which we did in the same 2005 bill that created the state AMT. Seems like subsidizing our least productive citizens might be something we would want to target more carefully than that. Our "welfare state" mentality, you must agree, is the biggest thing holding us back. Couldn't we better help those who can't help themselves if we made it a little more difficult for capable people to exist on the dole?