Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Minimum wage hike is a Frankfort tax increase

Frankfort Obamacrats are jumping in with both feet for Gov. Steve Beshear's unilateral move yesterday to raise executive branch state employee minimum wage to $10.10 and hour.

"The wage increases will cost about $1.6 million," the Lexington Herald Leader reported, "and less than $800,000 of that cost will come from the General Fund, Beshear said. Other sources of money, he said, include federal dollars, the state Road Fund and various state agency accounts."

Bottom line is all the cost of the increase will be paid by taxpayers. But this is far from the last word on the matter.

Beshear created the tax increase with another one of his executive orders citing as authority KRS 12, which grants him temporary powers when the legislature is out of session. The Herald Leader mentions this wrinkle but misses the point of it.

"The General Assembly can review Beshear’s order when legislators return to session in early January, but it would be difficult for them to lower state workers’ wages. The next governor also could roll back Beshear’s order, but Beshear said Monday he doubts that will happen."

The point they miss is that only the legislature can make Beshear's executive action permanent and if they do not it legally goes away. The 800 state workers affected by the minimum wage tax increase might be upset by such a wage cut, but by law if the legislature does not confirm the order then the initial hike no longer exists. They can't sue anyone for failing to execute a law which does not exist.

The interesting political part of this is if Jack Conway is elected Governor, he will probably try to play out the same executive order scam Beshear has in cramming ObamaCare down Kentuckians' throats. If Matt Bevin is elected Governor, the executive order will expire with the next General Assembly and he will not attempt to execute a law which does not exist.

Literally no one benefits in the long run if we continue Beshear's nasty habit of ignoring the failure of temporary executive orders. If we perpetuate the practice, we will literally need a separate Governor's Journal for keeping track of statutes the government no longer chooses to follow until we decide to just go ahead and let politicians ignore all laws. Frankfort Dems are trying to make hay with this issue and we should let them. It's a discussion whose time has come.