Sunday, February 27, 2011

David Williams' pension scandal is THE issue

Kentucky's Senate President David Williams wants to be Governor in the worst way.

Ask him why he deserves the promotion and he will tell you Kentucky is "adrift" and that he has experience to make us not "adrift." Of course, that's a funny approach to take since Williams has cut his teeth over the last quarter century mostly voting in favor of making government much bigger and harder to afford. Over the past decade, in which he has held de facto veto power over the legislature, state indebtedness has exploded from $3 billion to over $44 billion.

Williams refuses to apologize for raising taxes and debt, opting when pressed to list some taxes the legislature has reduced or eliminated in recent years. Great, only 240 more taxes, fees and surcharges left, too many of which Williams has supported and continues to support increasing.

The biggest issue personally for Williams is his government pension. He is set to receive an annual pension equal to 100% of his highest legislative salary when he retires. He will get that pension for the rest of his life. In 2005, Williams pushed through a bill that would make him a government pension millionaire if he can manage to get himself appointed or elected to higher state office. If he becomes governor, Williams' years as a legislator combine with his 2005 pension grab to instantly make him a government pension millionaire. We would actually wind up paying him a governor's salary in retirement for the rest of his life. Democrats are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to make this an issue this fall. Republicans should beat them to the punch and eliminate David Williams from consideration for the state's highest political office before this scandal messes up the party's chances in November.

Steve Beshear doesn't want to have to run against tea party leader Phil Moffett and his fresh approach to managing state government. He would much rather run against Williams, who will have a tougher time differentiating himself from the incumbent.

Williams can't answer questions about his pension scandal now and he won't be able to answer them this fall if he is still running. Kentucky Republicans can save themselves a big headache by encouraging Senator Williams to drop out of the race now.