Friday, December 30, 2011

Kentucky needs a debt ceiling

The biggest news story with the least amount of coverage in Kentucky in 2011 is easily Kentucky's debt problem.

Revenues continue to increase for the state and politicians in both parties continue to claim they need more revenue. But at the heart of the problem is that spending has increased even faster.

And that problem has been hidden by debt and unfunded liabilities. In order to believe that Kentucky's budget finished the last fiscal year in surplus, as the state claims, you have to ignore the money borrowed from the 2012 state Medicaid budget and ignore the unemployment benefits money borrowed from the federal government and ignore the money not paid into the state public employee benefits system and ignore the new billion dollars in bonded debt created in just the last year.

That's a lot of ignoring. And in 2012 we are going to have to get a handle on it.

Why Steve Beshear thinks he can raise taxes

Governor Steve Beshear didn't say anything about raising taxes before this year's election. In fact, he bragged in nuanced fashion about not raising any "broad-based" taxes in his first term.

He got away with that because his general election opponent played the same nuanced game to, in fact, raise taxes. And they together also played a much more harmful trick on Kentuckians by jointly underfunding and raiding public employee pensions by hundreds of millions of dollars and borrowing to spend billions more.

So the two most powerful politicians in Frankfort see no downside to increasing revenues now. They need the money, as they see it.

This is the kind of bipartisan agreement we are going to have to fight against even harder in 2012. And that is why we need a state debt ceiling and/or to amend the Constitution to give us a real balanced budget requirement.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This isn't transparency, Governor Beshear

Ellen Ballard in the Commonwealth of Kentucky Controller's Office said this morning the state's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report will remain hidden from the public at least until next Wednesday.

The FY 2011 report will show clearly that Kentucky made its budget appear balanced for the most recent year with the issuance of hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term debt.

KRS 48.800(3) states this report must be made available within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year. That was September 30, about five weeks before the November election. We shouldn't have to beg to see this report.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fletcher versus Stumbo one more time?

Former Governor Ernie Fletcher's Chief of Staff Stan Cave weighed in on Paul Patton's expensive and controversial plan to get state funding for the University of Pikeville.

"Admission of University of Pikeville into the public university system is quid pro quo for eastern Kentucky legislators' vote for expanded gambling," Cave said. "The House Speaker doesn't give a tinker's darn about a recurring $12 million cost to taxpayers."

Via Facebook.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Phyllis Sparks should be next

State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington has resigned as Kentucky's 4th Congressional District GOP chair so she can run in a likely crowded primary for Congress without an apparent conflict of interest.

Good move.

An even better one would be to replace her with Boone County Republican businesswoman and activist Phyllis Sparks. She has been very active in the Tea Party movement and would be a very solid choice to keep growing the party in the northern Kentucky district.

Can't grow cotton in Kentucky

I'm told anything that can be made of cotton can also be made of industrial hemp. Kentucky can't grow cotton. Growing hemp doesn't require the water and pesticides necessary to grow cotton.

Federal law prevents us from taking advantage of this competitive advantage.

Kentucky's new Agriculture Commissioner James Comer supports growing industrial hemp and resistance in the legislature is weak and based on ignorance of what industrial hemp is.

Anyone who supports economic growth in Kentucky should support overturning federal restrictions on growing industrial hemp.

Any questions?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Frankfort's chance to support Christians

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has been battling for years to keep an organization called Christian Care Medi-Share from saving Kentuckians money on their health care expenses.

This currently makes less sense than ever before and must stop now.

A constitutional amendment is necessary to allow cost-sharing programs to function in the state. As Medi-Share states on its web site, an exemption written into the ObamaCare law will keep their program a viable alternative should ObamaCare survive to 2014 and beyond.

Some Frankfort Republican leadership on this would really come in handy now.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's $336 million among friends?

Earlier in the week, Kentucky's Consensus Forecasting Group predicted revenues for the fiscal year ending next June 30 will be $9.0 billion. They also predicted a $136.5 million dollar surplus for the same time period.

That's interesting, considering the legislature voted just last spring to spend $9.2 billion.

Frankfort in January is going to be a sight to behold. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Governor Beshear's Christmas horror story

Governor Beshear's Finance and Administration Cabinet appears intent on making good on their threat to keep the truth about the state's finances hidden until the last business day before Christmas.

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report will show an increase of $1 billion in appropriation-supported debt in the fiscal year ending June 30. The report was apparently completed prior to September 30 but has been kept quiet since then.

The media is not going to report on this at all but this is exactly why we need a state debt ceiling.

Please spread the word.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let's protect the First Amendment

It's funny that the same big-government types who insist paid media is not speech want political speech to be paid for with tax dollars and think that will make everything just fine.

Exhibit A is Congressman John Yarmuth. He has filed a constitutional amendment to "get the money out of politics." We've never heard that before, have we?

Indeed, we have heard this same line constantly since the Watergate scandal and all the regulations, restrictions and penalties have done nothing to improve the political process. Prior to that, the idea that we needed government to control our political speech was universally understood as anathema to our American freedoms dating back to colonial times.

What we need is less regulation of political speech. Kentucky could lead the way on this by repealing all of our state campaign finance laws. With Yarmuth pushing so hard in the wrong direction, 2012 may be the perfect time to put this front and center.

Beshear still hiding bad news

Kentucky's Gov. Steve Beshear appears likely to get away with hiding the state's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report through the election and up to an expected just-before-Christmas release.

The report will show Frankfort accumulated an additional billion dollars in revenue-supported debt in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 despite claims of spending austerity and budget surplus.

Unfortunately, the GOP establishment in Frankfort has a big enough megaphone to draw attention to this but most of them voted for it, so they won't.

Those who vote for the status quo can't be surprised when they keep getting the same old thing.

When they get around to posting the report, you should be able to see it here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The force is strong with this one

Lewis County Judge Executive Thomas Massie will soon become a household name in Kentucky for the massive amounts of waste he has uncovered and eliminated since his 2010 election. It's no surprise that he is drawing a lot of attention as a possible candidate for Congress in the 4th congressional district in the 2012 open election.

Some NKY political hacks are spreading a rumor that Massie has declined to enter the race, but that is not true. Stay tuned here for updates.

Here he is with his wife and two of their four children along with presidential candidate Ron Paul at a 2010 Louisville fundraiser for Senator Rand Paul. Thomas also hosted a fundraiser at his home very early in Sen. Paul's campaign.

Thomas and his wife Rhonda are both Kentucky natives and MIT graduates. His children attend public school in Lewis County.

A policy split in the GOP establishment?

Sen. Damon Thayer has pre-filed a bill to remove the constitutional office of state Treasurer. The Senate has passed this bill before and the GOP nominee in 2007 ran with this as the main plank in her platform.

Here's hoping Sen. Thayer pushes SB 51 past any establishment resistance in the Senate.

Now two bills to end Kentucky legislator pensions

Kentucky legislative bills addressing the David Williams pension scandal keep coming in. The latest is from House Republican Brent Housman. It will be HB 149. Like Senate Democrat Dennis Parrett's bill, Housman's would shut down the Legislators' Retirement Plan to new participants as of August 1, 2012.

There are currently 5 pre-filed bills addressing this problem. Please, keep them coming.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How slowly can we fix KY pension scandal?

For the first time, each caucus in the Kentucky General Assembly has filed a bill to fix the David Williams pension scandal.

In the Senate, Republican Jimmy Higdon pre-filed SB 26 to stop legislators from getting a huge pension boost if they can get appointed to an executive or judicial branch position for as little as three years. Democratic Senator Dennis Parrett previously filed a similar bill, SB 28.

In the House, Republican Rep. Ron Crimm already filed HB 65.

And now, House Democratic Rep. Mike Cherry has re-filed the same bill he filed last year and then ignored in his own committee.

The bills have some similarities and differences, but the one feature that stands out the most is how quickly they each take effect. Interestingly, Sen. Higdon's bill doesn't kick in until the end of 2014. This makes it the slowest one of the bunch. Sen. Parrett's bill actually stops legislators from grabbing the outlandish pension boost on August 1, 2012 and goes so far as to shut down the Legislators Pension Plan to new members on the same date.

Sen. Parrett has the right idea.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Frankfort doesn't want you to know

Kentucky finance cabinet officials continue to sit on a devastating report on the accumulation of state debt nearly three full months after the report was supposed to have been prepared.

An official at the Cabinet said current plans are to release the report on December 23 or 24.

Please ask your representatives to demand the immediate release of the current Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is PNC taking your money to Pennsylvania?

Government officials in Latvia and Sweden are blaming Twitter for a weekend run on two Swedish banks in Latvia after "tweets" claimed Swedish officials were about to close the banks and leave depositors empty handed.

Twitter is not to blame; government bank deposit insurance is.

Think about it. If a rumor spread in Kentucky that Pennsylvania-based PNC Bank would shut its branches here and take all its depositors' money back to Pennsylvania, how would a lot of people react? You know it would get ugly.

The point is that government deposit insurance has made banking consumers all over the world dumber than they should be and subject to freaking out when presented with rumors like this.

The flip side of a false sense of security is a susceptibility to unwarranted panic. In addition to protecting taxpayers from huge amounts of moral hazard, ending government deposit insurance would force bank customers to educate themselves about the health of their bank.

At a time in which the world is growing keenly aware of the devastation caused by banking crises, that would be a good thing.

Can we interrupt inauguration to ask about this?

Kentucky's Finance and Administration Cabinet should have a report out any day now showing clearly that the state went $1 billion deeper into debt in the last fiscal year.

The report is supposed to post to this web site. In fact, according to KRS 48.800(3) it should have been posted by September 30.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Food freedom gets a boost in Kentucky

Kentucky state Sen. John Schickel pre-filed Senate Bill 47 to help clear up any confusion government officials may have about the right of farmers to sell -- and Kentuckians to drink -- unpasteurized milk.

This action was made necessary by an ill-conceived raid last May on a private food club by the Louisville Health Department.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Kentucky's shot at a debt ceiling

Kentucky Knows Best has a report out in favor of a constitutional amendment limiting the debt Frankfort politicians can pile on us.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Harmon, would limit revenue supported state debt service to 5% of revenues. We are now almost 30% above this so Rep. Harmon's bill would stop the accumulation of bonded debt for several years.

Glad to see Kentucky leading the way on this. Maybe Congress should take notes.

Should the bill, which will be HB 108 in the 2012 General Assembly, gain sufficient support in Frankfort it will appear on the November ballot as follows:

"Are you in favor of amending the Constitution of Kentucky to modernize, update, and consolidate provisions in the Kentucky Constitution related to debt, and to limit the amount of debt that may be authorized by the General Assembly, subject to future changes, to that limit initiated by either the registered voters of Kentucky or by the General Assembly?"

The correct answer is "yes."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Obama Admin lies in Lexington KY

At a Council of State Governments webinar in Lexington on Tuesday, an Obama Administration official lied about a serious problem with the ObamaCare law.

At about 31:40 on the video, Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight in the U.S Department of Health and Human Services was asked about citizens in states with federally-run ObamaCare health insurance exchanges not being able to get federal subsidies for the more expensive ObamaCare insurance in 2014.

The law states very clearly that only people in states with state-run exchanges can get the subsidies.

Mr. Larsen's answer did not reflect that fact.

"The ACA (Affordable Care Act) permits the federal exchange to provide tax credits," Larsen said.

The Obama Administration can't just wave a magic wand and change the wording of federal law to cover up this stupid mistake. To change the law, it must go back to Congress for a swift death in the House.

Obama minion files Kentucky bill

President Barack Obama's Kentucky campaign chairman pre-filed a bill yesterday that serves as another reminder that the champions of big government think you are stupid.

House Bill 103 would create three new slush funds inside Kentucky's budget reserve trust fund, or rainy day fund.

You aren't supposed to know that the only way Kentucky can show a positive balance in the rainy day fund is to hide our growing debt.

Professional politicians in both parties in Frankfort have gotten pretty good at that.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What is negative campaigning?

Attacking Newt Gingrich for being a Big Government Republican is not negative campaigning.

Any questions?

Tell Beshear to return ObamaCare bailout

Kentucky is one of six states to have started allowing state employees to drop state health insurance coverage on their children and pick up federally subsidized CHIP through changes implemented in the 2010 federal health reform law.

The Beshear administration claims to have shifted $2 million in health costs onto the federal government already.

Unwinding ObamaCare will be hard enough when we get the opportunity. With the program's tentacles now having extended into the state government workforce, it will be just that much harder.

The silence from Frankfort's Republicans on state action on ObamaCare is deafening.

Governor Beshear should back off this policy and stop all activity that further tangles Kentuckians into ObamaCare.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Try proving sales tax holiday isn't a gimmick

Nearly every year in Kentucky around Christmas, someone in the state legislature files a "back to school state sales tax holiday" bill.

So here comes the 2012 version. In it, certain school supplies and clothing would be exempt from state sales tax for three days at the end of July each year. It's the perfect feel-good legislative proposal. If it passes, the sponsors win. If it doesn't pass, the sponsors win. And voters who aren't paying much attention feel that their Frankfort lawmakers have thrown them a bone.

I'll take this as more than a political stunt if the sponsors amend the bill to immediately cut from the state budget the total amount of sales tax exemptions tallied during each and every sales tax holiday.

"The essence of ObamaCare"

Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann has criticized both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich for supporting the "essence of ObamaCare."

She's right.

Romney's web site says that he would "help control health care costs" and "ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions who are continuously covered for a specified period may not be denied coverage." But we don't need government to do either of these things. It's in following this flawed line of thinking about government activism in the marketplace that we wind up with things like ObamaCare.

Gingrich's web site says he wants to reinforce "laws which prohibit insurers from cancelling or charging discriminatory rate increases to those who become sick while insured." But we don't need government to step in and force insurers to stop doing something that their contracts allow them to do.

And that is the most important point.

Most people don't read their insurance contracts because they believe that government regulation is there to protect them. You don't have to talk to too many people to figure out this is not the case. You probably don't sit around all day trying to manipulate government regulations to get the most value from your insurance contracts. But your health insurer does. Those companies have to cut every available corner in the interests of self-preservation. And that's because government regulation would otherwise be used against them to curry favor, build power and buy votes. They were forced to start playing the game, but they have become expert at it. They are banking on the likelihood that you are no expert.

The best thing for government to do in health care transactions is to stop creating this adversarial relationship between insurers and their customers and get out of the way. If that policy were our default position, then helping people with temporary or even permanent financial needs relating to health care would be much cheaper for everyone. We would then have more insurance companies and greater consumer choices and all the societal benefits that come along with market competition.

Michelle Bachmann's web site is light on specifics about health care. With Herman Cain out of the race, she is smart to go after Romney and Gingrich on this issue. She should take the next step and show that she understands what must be done beyond repealing ObamaCare.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Make life easier for Kentucky Wildcats

University of Kentucky athletic dirctor Mitch Barnhart could build and maintain sports facilities for our beloved Wildcats for less money if Frankfort politicians would repeal the state's prevailing wage laws.

It's worth noting this weekend that North Carolina has no prevailing wage laws. Coach Calipari, what say you?

Greg Stumbo on drugs

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo wants to force medical providers to accept health insurance as part of the effort to "fight drugs." This comes as the federal government is doing its level best to destroy health insurance in America and state officials are already making it worse.

The only way out of our health care crisis is to rebuild markets in health care. Forcing providers who have escaped the system to get back in as part of a half-baked scheme to battle prescription drug abuse is the wrong solution at exactly the wrong time.

Price competition is the only thing that will improve the efficiency of health care in America. We don't need fewer cash-only clinics; we need more of them.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Kentucky can kill ObamaCare

A Kentucky Knows Best report indicates the ObamaCare law will collapse quickly under its own weight if states don't set up Health Insurance Exchanges which facilitate hiding the law's costs.

That's because the law clearly states federal subsidies for Exchange-purchased health insurance policies can only be given if the state chooses to run the exchange. Without the subsidies, ObamaCare insurance will be way too expensive.

The Obama Administration is scrambling to change the law illegally through the IRS or the Department of Health and Human Services because they know Congress won't bail the president out of his mess.

Meanwhile, Kentucky's Governor Steve Beshear is trying to figure out a way to change Kentucky law to set up a state-run Exchange without actually having to get a bill through the legislature.

States like Kentucky can kill ObamaCare by refusing to set up an Exchange. Please tell your legislators not to set up a state health insurance exchange.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Want to see bunch of sugared-up lawmakers?

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

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

Some Beshear 2% cuts are 98% short

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Mitt Romney doesn't get

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kentucky goes crazy for Casey Anthony

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

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

This legislative piling-on is no better.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Did Hal Rogers just endorse term limits?

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

Congressman Hal Rogers does not understand the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

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

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

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

Repealing ObamaCare isn't enough

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for the Tea Party this year

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

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

Long live the Tea Party.

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

Go fish.

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Same old trap on casino gambling

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another $2 billion hole in Kentucky's pocket

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

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

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

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

The Smurf Employment Act of 2012

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

No more wire hangers!

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

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

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

Duck and Cover time in Frankfort

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

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

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why would they think that?

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

There was one telling statement, though.

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

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

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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What will Kentucky Senate GOP do?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Will Mike Cherry show up in 2012?

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Will Gary Johnson sue WKYT and WLKY?

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

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Industrial hemp won last Tuesday

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

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

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

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

Let the unwinding of ObamaCare begin

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

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

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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ken Moellman didn't beat K.C. Crosbie

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

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

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

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

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

I'm not holding my breath. Are you?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Et tu, John David Dyche?

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

Should be interesting...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Newt Gingrich gets the third thing wrong

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

Why David Williams lost

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't let Hal Rogers do this

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

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

Steve Nunn Pension Act of 2012

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

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

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

An unfortunate lack of differentiation

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

One election night number

One number tells the story of election night: 444.

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Kentucky "a bit stranger"

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

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

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

Monday, November 07, 2011

David Williams' Budget Buddha

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

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

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

Did Sarah Palin just define Kentucky for 2011?

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 05, 2011

David Williams' Hindu Hat Trick

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 04, 2011

Kentucky isn't last on this list, yet

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

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

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

Drive a status quo protector crazy

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

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

Thursday, November 03, 2011

How much polytheism will $20 million buy?

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Throw Kentucky home schoolers a bone

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

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

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

David Williams doubles down on Aqua Hindu

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

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

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

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

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

David Williams goes Aqua Hindu

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Phil Moffett scholarship bill

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

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

John Kemper catches Crit Luallen hiding

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

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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cleaning up David Williams' pension mess

Kentucky state Rep. Ron Crimm and Sen. Jimmy Higdon have pre-filed bills (here and here) to help undo the damage caused by HB 299 from 2005, the legislative pension scandal bill. That bill, championed by Senate President David Williams helped weaken Williams' case for defeating Governor Steve Beshear.

In one week, Williams will be tempted to blame the Tea Party for his loss in the election. It won't work.

What Obama wants to hear from you

Today is the last day for public comment on President Barack Obama's proposed rules for state health insurance exchanges.

What you will find if you go to the site to comment, though, is little more than Obama's proposals, a closed (and empty) comments section and a dead link. Click here to see for yourself.

And if you haven't heard, Kentucky's political leadership in both parties is already engaged in limiting our ability to sidestep this mess.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Big endorsement for P'Pool coming Monday

Kentucky Republican Attorney General candidate Todd P'Pool will be getting a major endorsement on Monday, which should bring significant attention to the national implications of his race.

P'Pool has campaigned effectively in opposition to his opponent's support for ObamaCare and the EPA's war on coal. Unfortunately, Governor Steve Beshear is cruising to victory and most observers expect that to negatively impact the races of other Republicans on the November 8 ballot.

Crit Luallen still playing Frankfort games

Kentucky state Auditor Crit Luallen is sitting on a potentially embarrassing audit report of Perry County Sheriff Les Burgett's office.

Sources inside the Auditor's office say the report was due out early last week, but that its release has been inexplicably delayed.

Luallen has already endorsed fellow Frankfort insider Adam Edelen to succeed her in office. Edelen faces Tea Party Republican John Kemper in the November 8 election.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another attempt to criminalize Tea Party

Frankfort's political establishment continues to pull every possible dirty trick to stop grassroots political activists from knocking them off their perch and cleaning up their mess once and for all. The latest effort could criminalize door-to-door campaigning, an activity at which Tea Partiers are becoming particularly effective across the state.

State Rep. Dennis Keene has pre-filed, HB 63, a bill which would make attaching fliers to voters' front doors a Class A misdemeanor. On top of Kentucky's ridiculous and unconstitutional campaign finance laws, fining citizens for campaigning door-to-door can't be tolerated in a society that prides itself on the freedoms of its citizenry.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rand Paul endorses John Kemper

Sen. Rand Paul has endorsed candidate for Auditor of Public Accounts John Kemper in the November 8 election.

"As a Kentuckian, a conservative and a constant thorn in the side of the political status quo, I fully support John Kemper for Kentucky state Auditor," Sen. Paul said.

"At times, Frankfort can be a lot like Washington. The political class believes it knows what is best and doesn't listen to the voice of the people. I can tell you John Kemper would fight the establishment in Frankfort. Fight it every day. And he would bring honesty and transparency to our state finances."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Florida, watch Kentucky on welfare abuse

Florida's drug testing of welfare recipients law has been in the news this week because a judge there stopped the testing, saying the law is unconstitutional.

The judge is right, but Floridians eager to reduce welfare abuse need only look to Kentucky State Representative Lonnie Napier for guidance.

Florida's law indiscriminately drug tests all welfare recipients. Drug testing of welfare recipients can only work if there is probable cause to suspect drug use. And remember, this only affects people who are on public assistance.

Rep. Napier's bill not only orders drug tests for welfare recipients suspected likely to test positive, it also removes benefits from people who refuse to be tested. Should the Kentucky bill be enacted, it's likely very few tests will actually be given because those targeted will just not show up to be tested and will then be dropped from the rolls.

Florida's law not only fails the constitutional test, it fails the common sense test by wasting lots of money testing everyone on welfare. Resistance to Napier's bill is strong in Kentucky's dysfunctional legislature, but Florida would do very well to follow his lead.

And then hopefully their results will help us change Frankfort.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kentucky's dumber than usual governor's race

Despite having millions of dollars at their disposal, the Beshear/Williams lovefest this fall has been a pretty disheartening affair. And Kentuckians will be paying a price for it for some time to come.

I understand that not everyone is a policy wonk and that races such as this are often turned on emotional appeals rather than rational debate, but in a time of real crisis such as this people are looking for real answers and that opportunity has been missed.

Governor Steve Beshear's message is that he has done a good job managing the state's finances (which is demonstrably false) and that David Williams has blocked his two great ideas, casino gambling and raising the school drop-out age to eighteen. Beshear has also lied about creating (or saving) lots of jobs and is now charging Williams with campaign finance violations.

Senate President David Williams' primary message is that Beshear isn't a leader, doesn't have a plan and that he (Williams) will be a "bold" governor. But nearly all of Williams' economic policy positions have shifted too much over time to be taken seriously now. Williams has also tried to pin campaign finance violations on Beshear.

Politicians often talk about "campaign finance violations" when they have nothing else to say.

The most important issues in this election would be our state's fiscal situation and the economy if we had candidates with credibility. Since we don't, we are stuck watching these two campaigns squabble over how they are funding their television ads.

Gatewood Galbraith is right when he says now is the perfect time for Kentucky to go in a different direction with a different kind of governor. He hasn't managed to capture the tiger even by the tail, though, for a variety of reasons not worth getting into here.

The bottom line is Beshear will win re-election handily and for all the wrong reasons while Williams goes back into the Senate with a higher profile. That may not work out very well for him, though.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do you feel protected now?

A Frankfort judge agreed today to let Restoring America air its tv ads supporting Senate President David Williams after Williams' father-in-law divulged that he has given $2.3 million to independent groups to promote Williams' gubernatorial campaign.

So according to the geniuses who thought up Kentucky's ridiculous campaign finance laws, you weren't protected on Monday when you didn't know who was paying for the ads, but you are now because you know.

Feel better?

Campaign finance restrictions are a charade and don't benefit the political process or protect any citizens. The genie is out of the bottle after the Citizens United case and it is just going to get more bizarre. We should beat the rush and repeal all of our campaign finance laws. Then we can turn our focus completely to the quality of candidates' positions and stop twiddling our thumbs watching this garbage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Panicked Democrat attacks Tea Party

The former chief of staff to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear made a stump speech for him today and flipped out talking about the Tea Party.

As reported on, Adam Edelen said "the Republican Party in Kentucky has been completely taken over by the tea party. What that means for us, the Democratic Party is the mainstream party reflecting the mainstream values of Kentucky voters of any party in Kentucky."

What is it with these guys? All the Tea Party wants is smaller government, balanced budgets and to be left alone. Faced with enormous and growing government deficits and bureaucratic encroachment on our rights and in our lives far beyond anything allowed by any constitution on the federal or state level, the mainstream is becoming more tea party every day.

I take it that Mr. Edelen's answer to his Tea Party Republican opponent John Kemper's modest and very mainstream request from earlier today is no.

John Kemper leads the way

Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts candidate John Kemper took the unprecedented step today of returning all campaign contributions from government officials who he may have to audit and then challenged his opponent to do the same.

Democratic candidate Adam Edelen was last seen hiding under his desk.

Edelen has run his campaign so far as the ultimate insider: a former chief of staff to Governor Steve Beshear with aspirations to higher office himself.

Edelen may return all his contributions in an attempt to eschew conflicts of interest he would face as Auditor, but he can't run away now from this power play he and Beshear so carefully engineered for themselves.

Kentuckians need to be able to depend on their Auditor to keep government officials accountable. Even when it means taking on the Governor. No one seriously believes John Kemper's insider opponent has any interest in doing that.

John Kemper is Kentucky's only chance to have an independent auditor for the next four years.

The Shut Up and Work Act of 2012

Leaders of the Kentucky legislature waste time in even-year legislative sessions for two painfully obvious reasons, both of which hurt Kentuckians.

The spans the month of January and involves politicians taking up as few controversial issues as possible in order to get past the candidate filing deadline without attracting opponents who might unseat them. The second follows toward the end of the session when leaders write the state budget in secret as time runs out and without appropriate public scrutiny.

A potential help to the problem of paying legislators to lollygag around wasting time and money and protecting their political backsides comes in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment from Sen. Jimmy Higdon.

The bill will be SB 22 in the 2012 session. It proposes to change the 60 day budget session into a 30 day budget session. We could surely do with a lot less of watching our politicians kill time with self-congratulatory speechifying. They have one job to do in even-numbered years and that is to pass a budget. They should focus on that and nothing else until it is done. Cutting the time for the budget sessions in half would surely encourage more of them to shut up and work.

The gubernatorial candidates would do well to weigh in on this bill right away.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Todd P'pool, don't take the bait!

An independent expenditure group supporting Senate President David Williams' gubernatorial campaign was ordered Monday to pull its television ads off the air after a legal complaint by the Kentucky Democratic Party. The KDP argued campaign finance reports filed by "Restoring America" did not show who paid for the ads and that such an omission violates campaign finance laws.

On Tuesday, a group supporting Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway started airing a tv ad. The "Bluegrass Committee for Justice and Fairness" also did not specify the source of its funding.

Republican Attorney General nominee Todd P'pool may be tempted to petition for the ad running against him to be pulled using the same argument Democrats are using against Williams. I hope he doesn't do it.

Kentucky's campaign finance laws are an unconstitutional mess. No one would expect Todd to take that up now and try to explain it to voters. He would do well, though, to take the high road on freedom on speech by publicly repudiating not the cloak of anonymity covering Bluegrass Committee for Justice and Fairness but the disdain for freedom shown by Kentucky Democratic Party.

Another swing and miss for Mitch McConnell

Roll Call takes a look at Kentucky's GOP today with an article about whether or not Sen. David Williams' coming loss in November will hurt Sen. Mitch McConnell.

I think Mitch will be able to separate himself from this one pretty well, but the establishment versus Tea Party battle for the soul of the Republican party continues with McConnell still on the wrong side.

You can read the article here. This is my favorite line:
"It has been particularly difficult for Williams to fully separate himself from Beshear because, as Senate President, every piece of legislation the governor signed went through the legislative body he controls."

The Republican party remains our state and nation's best vehicle for getting back on track, but that effort isn't helped when powerful figures like Mitch McConnell keep supporting moderate candidates who won't stand up against the status quo.

Friday, September 30, 2011

"Open Government" closed at Univ. of Kentucky

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway will appear at an "open government" forum on October 4 at the University of Kentucky. The public is invited but questions about Conway's support for ObamaCare, Conway's drug scandal or his silence on the state's debt problems will not be allowed.

This will be a good event for conservative Kentuckians to attend to attempt to get some answers from Conway on these important issues. It will start at 6pm ET at UK's William T. Young Library auditorium.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Excessive public debt just like a tax increase

Governor Steve Beshear just told WVLK's Jack Pattie that he didn't raise taxes on Kentuckians when revenues went down. The big thing he hopes you don't know about is the billion dollars a year in revenue-supported debt he and the legislature piled up these last three years.

But without an awareness of this key fact, we will have a very difficult time turning back from our overspending habit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yarmuth wants welfare for Congressmen

Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth told CN2 that public financing of federal political campaigns would cut down on partisanship in Washington D.C. And he's right.

It would certainly cut down on the number of people in political office who believe in smaller government. Incidentally, Louisville state Rep. Jim Wayne has filed a bill for the 2012 General Assembly that would give public financing to judicial candidates.

Rep. Wayne's bill would slap a felony charge on anyone violating not only any provision of his silly bill, but also for violating any yet-to-be-determined administrative regulations dreamed up by the bureaucrats at the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't let ObamaCare waiver day pass unnoticed

This Thursday, September 22, is the federally imposed deadline to apply for any kind of exemption from ObamaCare.

You very likely won't be getting one. Nevertheless, we should recognize the day as it approaches and when it hits because the enormity of the negative impact ObamaCare will have on our nation can't be overemphasized.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the federal takeover of our healthcare system next fall. If that effort fails to rescue us from the expansion of socialized medicine, then we can expect to see state Medicaid programs going under pretty quickly in 2014, followed by individual and employer-provided plans.

The idea that we can regulate health insurance at the federal or state level in such a way that does anything but raise prices and lower quality of service, needs to pass quickly from the public debate. It's a form of insanity we can no longer afford. Enforcing freely written insurance contracts in courts of law should be the extent to which government is involved in health care.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Obama channels Carter's solar flair

Barack Obama was supposed to usher in a new era of widespread prosperity and trust for America. Just like Jimmy Carter thirty years before him.

Noticing some of recent commentary on Carter's infamous "malaise" speech, particularly some stating that it wasn't all that bad, I went back and read the text. And I have to admit, it isn't all that bad, compared to Obama. What jumped out at me, though, was the same idea that if we just raise taxes and spend it on pie-in-the-sky everything will be fine.

Carter said on July 15, 1979:

"I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000."

"These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay. It will be money well spent. Unlike the billions of dollars that we ship to foreign countries to pay for foreign oil, these funds will be paid by Americans to Americans. These funds will go to fight, not to increase, inflation and unemployment."

Incidentally, Carter got his windfall profits tax. Take a look at how that worked out for us by clicking here.

Keep this in mind as Obama continues to push for tax increases and as his solar scandal heats up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Snooki coming to Kentucky?

There's a hilarious story out of New Jersey today about bipartisan disgust for "reality tv" stars The Situation and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and their television show "Jersey Shore" getting $420,000 in film tax credits from the state of New Jersey.

"The governor needs to step up for decency and veto this. If the show wants to go somewhere else, let 'em," said state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), who said it includes negative stereotypes of young Italian-Americans.

"Let us just hope against hope that New Jersey taxpayers don’t end up paying for 'Snooki's' bail the next time she is arrested. What a terrible, terrible and misguided waste." said State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen).

Meanwhile, Kentucky politicians are scrambling to throw taxpayer dollars at just such a project.

From the August Kentucky Film Office newsletter:
"In addition, requests for location, crew and operational needs from the industry have jumped 71 percent in the past year. This increase is due, in large part, to the explosion in outdoor reality and “survivor” type programming in television, which has allowed us to positively showcase our terrain, natural resources and cave areas."

Now would be a great time to start talking about shutting down this ridiculous form of "economic development."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Repeal of "politicians' best friend" bill filed

Rep. Joe Fischer pre-filed a bill Wednesday to prevent local government entities from abusing taxpayers with massive annual tax increases exploiting a loophole written into the "compensating rate" property tax increase law.

This is another perfect Tea Party issue. Please encourage your legislator to support what will be House Bill 48 in the 2012 General Assembly.

Boone County PVA Cindy Arlinghaus deserves a tremendous amount of credit for discovering how this loophole works and blowing the whistle on it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Comer crushing opponent on YouTube

Kentucky's Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate James Comer is winning on YouTube, big time. His experience in agriculture gives him a good chance in this race against an unqualified opponent.

Republican party cutting itself in half

The proposed Republican Party of Kentucky rule change to exclude people who didn't support the party's nominees doesn't go back four years as reported last week; it only applies to the current and previous year.

Since the GOP re-organization elections are in early 2012, those who will be excluded from party leadership are people who didn't support GOP nominees in 2011.

This is about purging the party of anyone who opposed Republican nominees in 2011. Latest polling suggests barely half of Republicans support gubernatorial nominee David Williams.

The Republican State Central Committee will meet this Saturday, September 17, 2011 and vote to confirm this proposed rule change, effectively cutting itself in half. If you oppose that idea, please plan on coming to Frankfort at 10:30 am on Saturday to the Best Western Parkside Inn, 80 Chenault Rd, Frankfort, KY. The meeting starts at 11:00 am.

Another retirement plan for state legislators?

Rep. Jim Wayne pre-filed a bill Friday afternoon to create taxpayer financing of judicial races in Kentucky. The bill leaves it up to the Registry of Election Finance to determine which candidates are worthy of access to your money to seek office as a judge.

Under Kentucky law, legislators get a huge boost to their state pensions when they gain a higher paying full time job in state government. Kentucky's candidates for Attorney General should be asked what they think about this idea.

Friday, September 09, 2011

RPK cuts off its nose to spite its face

Kentucky Knows Best PAC has been battling some members of Kentucky's GOP establishment in recent months to stop them from excluding tea party members from Republican party leadership. Finding out about their shenanigans and shutting them down one at a time has been an interesting experience.

Today, RPK has jumped the shark.

According to a media report, the Republican Party of Kentucky has changed their rules to exclude from leadership anyone who has endorsed or financially supported in the prior four years a candidate who is not a Republican.

Two words: Bob Leeper.

Republican leadership voted just last year to endorse and support the Independent from Paducah who currently serves as budget chairman in the state Senate.

RPK leadership just excluded from positions in party leadership themselves and their gubernatorial nominee, Senate President David Williams.

Sheriff Mack coming to Georgetown Kentucky

Champion of the U.S. Constitution Sheriff Richard Mack will speak in Georgetown Kentucky at 7pm ET on September 21.

He will appear at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 201 Wellington Way in Georgetown.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

John Kemper: stop money-losing debt restructuring

Frankfort debt restructuring over the last four years has encouraged overspending and will cost Kentucky taxpayers hundreds of millons of dollars for what amounts to an accounting stunt, Republican candidate for state Auditor John Kemper said.

"Looking at the numbers, they are claiming $427 million in cash flow savings from debt restructuring over fiscal years 2009 to 2012 and then there is a real loss of $600 million over the next seventeen years just to make the budget look balanced while Steve Beshear has been governor," Kemper said. "Problems like this inspire me to run for auditor. If I am elected I will work to stop any debt restructuring that loses Kentuckians' money like this."

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Kentucky casino bills filed today

Kentucky Republican state Rep. Michael Nemes has filed a casino bill and a constitutional amendment allowing counties to decide if they get either a full casino or slots at racetracks.

The measures pre-filed today (here and here) would create a Kentucky Gaming Commission and taxing schemes of 21% of gambling revenues to the state and a $3 per person admission fee for casinos, of which 2/3 would go to the state and 1/3 to the county or counties in which the casino is situated.

The bill contains no provisions to prevent the state from overcommitting projected casino revenues, which will ultimately be what makes this whole idea a loser for Kentucky if it passes.

How is this NOT news?

It has been a week since the Beshear administration responded to complaints about a state debt web site not being updated in three years by pulling down the link to the site.

Beshear's Republican opponent Senate President David Williams, who voted for every dime of our quickly accumulating debt, has failed to mention Beshear's aggressive lack of transparency on this issue.

State bonded debt has increased by three billion dollars under Beshear. Federal stimulus funds to Kentucky totalled $3.4 billion. We owe almost a billion more in unemployment funds. Revenues went down, but not this much. And Beshear is running for re-election as a good steward of state finances.

Kentucky's state debt is a huge news story and Kentucky's media is missing it. Worse, they are missing it because neither candidate for governor is talking about it.

What am I missing here?

Monday, September 05, 2011

Rep. Jim Wayne wants to eat your "puny" county

Be on the lookout for a new line of attack against the Tea Party: liberals who praise and agree with us.

At the end of a recent CN2 interview, Rep. Wayne was asked about the Tea Party.

"I think the Tea Party -- we need to listen to them. And the reason we need to listen to them is because we not only have a tax problem in this state, we have a spending problem in this state and that's where the Tea Party can help us."

Sounds good, right? Two problems though. Wayne represents the far left wing of the legislature and when he talks about a tax problem, he means they aren't high enough. But when he starts talking about a spending problem is when it really gets dicey.

Wayne then made a case for cutting government spending by consolidating counties because of all the money spent on courthouses and "multiple sheriffs and county judges and magistrates and everything that are all going to get pensions and all going to get salaries and all going to get health insurance and so on and so forth."

While there is no excuse for all the money spent on palatial courthouses in recent years, which Wayne voted for building, by the way, and the idea of shrinking government by consolidating some bureaucracies makes sense, eliminating elective offices makes government bigger and further removed from the people being represented.

Imagine your county being merged with another, larger county and all your local representatives being eliminated. In subsequent elections, with most if not all successful candidates for local office coming from the more populous area of the new, larger county, where do you think their attention will tend to be directed?

The far left is trying to seduce the Tea Party with their talk of smaller government, but what they are offering is fewer, larger governments with less representation and more distance between elected officials and their employers. Don't buy their snake oil.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Kemper catches Steve Beshear erasing web page

Governor Steve Beshear has made state finances less transparent to Kentuckians by hiding the one statistic telling the whole story about our fiscal situation, state Auditor candidate John Kemper said.

"Kentucky is billions of dollars deeper in debt than we were when Beshear came into office, but you have to be an archaeologist to find exactly how much," Kemper said. "We complained that his administration hadn't updated the page showing state bonded debt and the response today apparently was to pull down the link altogether. An independent auditor would shed light on this and since my opponent owes his political career to Beshear, I'm doing it. Governor Beshear should post our debt figures where they are easy to find or explain why he doesn't want to."

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Thank you Oregon and North Carolina!

Kentucky had the third highest state gasoline tax increase in the country in 2011.

Only seven states increased gas taxes on their citizens this year.

Todd P'Pool case shines light on bad law

A Kentucky Knows Best email yesterday about the poorly written state law being used against Attorney General candidate Todd P'Pool stirred up some interesting information.

Republican Todd P'Pool is being hounded by Jack Conway using a law Governor Steve Beshear wrote thirty seven years ago and that the Kentucky Supreme Court found unconstitutional ten years ago.

Now is a great time to go through Kentucky's campaign finance laws to justify what we can (which won't be much) and throw out the rest.

Thanks to Marcus Carey for the heads up on the Supreme Court case.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Repeal KRS 121.310 for P'Pool and Conway

Both the Lexington Herald Leader and Louisville Courier Journal reported this week on supporters of Kentucky Attorney General candidate Todd P'Pool facing felony convictions for talking about their candidate and his opponent Attorney General Jack Conway.

The news stories are here and here.

At issue is KRS 121.310, which appears as follows in Kentucky law:

The law is so sloppy and imprecise it should be repealed. To do otherwise is to allow an unconstitutional prosecution of speech while empowering government to make up the rules as it goes along.

First, the law doesn't necessarily restrict only employers. By stating "no person shall" without defining person, much less specifying employers as a target, the law could mean to inhibit anyone from talking to someone who has a job. Then, we could interpret "coerce or direct any employee" to mean "tell any employee." Worst of all, the rest of paragraph (1) could easily apply to wearing a t-shirt or possessing a political bumper sticker or flyer.

And paragraph (2) is worse.

Todd P'Pool's supporters shouldn't face felony convictions under this ridiculous statute and Jack Conway's shouldn't either, which they clearly and easily could if Republicans sought to make the point. Repealing this nonsense makes sense for all Kentuckians.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lexington taxpayers to get blindsided in September

A jury trial scheduled for September 26 in Jessamine Circuit Court will rock Fayette County taxpayers and shake up Lexington's political scene.

John Vest vs. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, originally filed in 2007, resulted from official mishandling and cover-up associated with multiple cases of civil rights violations at the Fayette County Detention Center.

Former mayors Teresa Isaac and Jim Newberry were directly involved in the mishandling and cover-up.

Vest was the FBI's informant whose testimony sparked an October 2006 raid by dozens of federal agents to the Lexington jail. Vest's only request was to be transferred to another city job with immediate supervisors who might be less likely to try to kill him.

Had Vest simply been transferred, much of this would have just gone away. In fact, rumors are circulating of both Isaac and Newberry eyeing a rematch with Mayor Jim Gray. But they may have to reconsider after Lexington taxpayers finish writing a multi-million dollar check to Vest due to official misconduct by these incompetent politicians.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Frankfort finds its hurricane

Earlier this year, Frankfort politicians agreed to "balance" Kentucky's Medicaid budget by borrowing $166 million in 2012 funds to spend in 2011.

They also set out to save money in 2012 and beyond by switching to a managed care system. Of course, they are attempting to do this without reducing the state government Medicaid workforce.

Perhaps an early indication of how things are going so far comes today with news that Kentucky's Medicaid Managed Care Hotline is backed up and excess calls are being routed to Pennsylvania, where they can't be answered due to complications related to Hurricane Irene.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just pointing this out

The top issue in America right now is jobs and the role government has played in messing up the economy by taxing too much, spending too much and building up its own power at the expense of the people.

The failure of Gov. Steve Beshear's opponent to credibly differentiate himself on these issues surely has a lot to do with the fact that gives him just about a zero percent chance of winning in November.

If you really disagree, of course, you should probably call Intrade.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is it the Kentucky typo tax?

Kentucky Auditor candidate John Kemper pointed out something odd about the record-high deposit to the state's rainy day fund a month ago: it's illegal.

"Kentucky state law prohibits putting more than half of an annual surplus into the budget reserve trust fund, also known as the rainy day fund," Kemper said. "A change in the law in 2010 allows the governor to spend all the rainy day money without the General Assembly's permission for the rest of this fiscal year. Our legislators are going to have to be more careful controlling spending in the next budget."

Budget officials in Frankfort said this morning that the legislature changed the law in the 2010 special session to allow Beshear to put more than half of the $156.8 million "surplus" into the rainy day fund. But HB 1 didn't notwithstand KRS 48.705. Instead, it temporarily rescinded KRS 48.700.

Big difference.

We will never know for sure who mixed up the numbers of the two statutes, but by notwithstanding KRS 48.700, the legislature allows Beshear to spend all of the $121 million in the rainy day fund without the permission of the General Assembly.

Giving Beshear control over that much money is not a great idea and something at least some members of the legislature claim to oppose doing. If Beshear misappropriates any part of that money, we should call it the Kentucky typo tax.