Kentucky Club for Growth
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January 31, 2007

Hawpe: Privatize portions of state parks' operations

David Hawpe has a great column on the politics of getting a state park in your district.

It's all pork, of course. Hawpe doesn't go far enough, although calling for private management of state park operations is a great idea.

Kentucky needs to sell its least profitable parks and use the money to pay the state's crippling financial obligations or reduce taxes.

January 29, 2007

Dems cut pork

Why can't Kentucky get Democrats like this?

It was just a spud for starters: a $200,000 spending earmark Congress added in 1982 for the breeding of Eastern Russets. A quarter century and $28 million later, special research grants for potatoes top $1.4 million annually with no end in sight -- until now.

As part of a giant spending bill to be filed in Congress tonight, Democrats will take a spade to more than $186 million in such research grants, which have quadrupled in the Agriculture Department since the 1980s. Hardest hit are the nation's 58 land-grant colleges, which have become dependent on the funds and now are caught in the backlash against members of Congress "earmarking" money for particular causes or recipients.

Filling about 150 pages, the bill will govern spending for the last eight months of fiscal 2007 -- ending Sept. 30 -- and coming just a week before President Bush submits his budget request for fiscal 2008, its proposed cuts underscore the changed landscape after November's elections. The new Democratic majority has declared a moratorium on earmarks, while Congress establishes rules to deal with past abuses in the appropriations process. But only now will Washington get a glimpse of the full impact on spending and the balance of power between Congress and the White House.

Kentucky is still well-acquainted with pork. Will even one of the Democrats running for Governor please promise to spend no more than $15 billion in the next two-year budget cycle?

Projected state budget surplus is trimmed - by John Stamper, Lexington Herald-Leader

January 28, 2007

A vote to end federal wage controls?

Where are all the local stories about a U.S. Senate vote to end federal wage controls?

Senators Bunning and McConnell voted to end the federal minimum wage. That's a brave, bold and correct stance to take. I mean, even China has no wage controls in its economy, and it's officially a communist country.

Nonetheless, it's a great sign that our Senators are even considering eliminating the federal minimum wage. Let the states handle it. The Constitution gives the federal government no authority to regulate local wages. (hat tip: Mark)

January 27, 2007

We hear ya talkin', Billy

... and we like it. Gubernatorial candidate Billy Harper, at least thus far, has called Gov. Ernie Fletcher to the mat for his poor business tax policy:

"The Governor’s proposal to extend tax incentives to Ford in order to preserve jobs in Kentucky begs the question of why he won't repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is driving the jobs out of Kentucky in the first place.

The University of Kentucky has documented that a great many of the tax incentives Kentucky has extended to businesses have not resulted in the predicted job creation. This is because Kentucky has collected $100 million more this year than last year in business taxes. If the state left that $100 million in the hands of businesses it would not need to offer new tax incentives, just cut taxes."

Tasty waste of your money

Jell-O replica of Scottsdale, Ariz.: $15,000.

January 23, 2007

UK study: Tax breaks create fewer jobs than state claims - by John Stamper, Lexington Herald-Leader

Tax breaks don't create as many jobs as state claims, UK study finds - by John Stamper, Lexington Herald-Leader

January 21, 2007

Detroit teachers prefer private schools for their kids

Go figure. Word on the street is that many teachers in Jefferson County have the opportunity to send their children to a wide variety of public schools, inside and outside the district. Does anyone know for sure?

Chandler a tax-pledge breaker?

Americans for Tax reform seems to think so. I wonder if that will be an issue in '08.

January 20, 2007


RNC Chairman Mike Duncan has finally said what the Club for Growth has been saying for years:

"When we are true to our core principles of lower taxes, limited government and individual responsibility, we win," said Mike Duncan, an eastern Kentucky banker who is the RNC's new chairman. However, he added, Republicans lose ground when they stray from those priorities, as the GOP did last fall.
The fever has clearly broken. Now if only more Kentucky politicians would get on the bandwagon.

January 19, 2007

Supply and demand and demand and demand

So the U.S. House voted to cut interest rates on college loans. Truck and Barter gives us the economist's take:

To an economist, this looks like a subsidy from other taxpayers to the buyers of college education. The demand curve for college education will shift out, resulting in an increase in quantity and an increase in price. College tuition rates will rise. The less elastic the supply of college education (the steeper the supply curve), the bigger the boost to price (and the bigger the transfer to existing colleges).

But, of course, Speaker Pelosi wants to lower college education costs. Kentucky is looking at similar "solutions" to the college cost problem. The problem with those solutions: They ignore some pretty immutable facts about how schools respond to subsidies.

January 16, 2007

Gatewood fires it up

Democrat turned Reformer turned Independent turned Democrat Gatewood Galbraith might ... you guessed it ... run for governor. For a fourth time. His rhetoric isn't all bad:

Galbraith portrayed himself as the most conservative candidate in this year's race.

"I'm for limited government," he said. "That's what the constitution was set up to do."

Sounds good so far.

Stan Lee rises in the General Assembly

Elizabeth Beardsley has a worthy piece on Stan Lee's rise in the Kentucky General Assembly:

Lee routinely offers such legislation, but this year he has more power to affect outcomes after being elected House minority whip amid post-election anger over the defeat of seven GOP incumbents.

In an interview, Lee said he doesn't know whether his new leadership post will help him guide his bills into law, but it "can't hurt."

"We shouldn't be afraid to have these debates," Lee said.

One lawmaker said Lee was elected minority whip as the party sought a more conservative direction after November's elections.

"There is a tendency to think that you had losses because you weren't true to your conservative principles," said Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville.

Lee concurred, saying many Republicans felt "the party itself maybe had lost its way a little bit in the last couple of years and perhaps needed to get back to some traditional American-type values, some traditional conservative issues and Republican ideals."

Lee typically is among the more principled defenders of reduced spending and tax cuts. He was one of two lawmakers who voted against last year's budget.


January 15, 2007

Eminent domain still needs reform

Jeremy Hopkins bemoans Virginia law when it comes to eminent domain, and rightly so:

The Virginia Constitution guarantees owners just compensation for property taken, but Virginia law frequently guarantees that owners receive less than just compensation or less than the value of the property taken. An owner who receives a below-market-value offer for his property has one choice: accept the condemnor's low offer or forfeit a portion of his compensation to litigation expenses. Virginia law prohibits an owner from being reimbursed for litigation expenses regardless of how unreasonable a condemnor's offer may have been. Virginia law also prohibits business owners from recovering business losses they suffer when a condemnor takes their business.

Kentucky allows for property to be taken under a designation of "blight," but the requirements for an appropriate blight designation are ridiculously broad. Kentucky is not done reforming eminent domain. Not by a longshot.

January 14, 2007

Shell game

Billy Harper's recent ad dealing with pork barrel spending and the alternative minimum tax is pretty entertaining.

It's made more effective when you watch the General Assembly slowly and quietly backtracking on the AMC issue. A month ago, lawmakers were prepped to repeal the tax. Jody Richards called the tax "unAmerican," but more recently has said that the General Assembly probably won't get around to repealing it in this legislative session.

Harper claims in his ad that he'll cut pork barrel spending and eliminate the AMC. The great thing for Harper is that by this time next year, he might get that chance. It's unlikely that lawmakers will be willing to give up the huge revenue boost the AMC provided. The big spenders would rather spend money, keep the tax and send Fletcher to defend his signature on all that pork.

As to the pork barrel spending, Harper's claim sounds good, but he'll have to explain how a Kentucky governor with such a weak line-item veto power can actually stop any popular spending. Then again, Fletcher will have to explain why, when given a unique opportunity to strongly veto all of the pork barrel spending in Kentucky's budget, he chose to keep almost all of it in.

January 13, 2007

No Respect ...

Republican leadership in the U.S. House is giving Jeff Flake a cold shoulder. If they want control of the House back, they need to give Flake - the ultimate anti-porker - more, not less seniority.

January 12, 2007

Kentucky fails to help minority students

A Fordham Foundation report shows that most states are doing a poor job educating minority students. How about Kentucky? Kentucky gets a big fat D in student achievement (average among the states) and a D for education reform (below average).

How many years has it been since KERA was touted as "a national model for education reform" now?

January 10, 2007

Sticking it to low-wage workers

John Stossel has a good piece on the minimum wage:

The law of supply and demand works in the labor market, too. If government mandates a higher minimum wage, some workers will get a raise. Some. But something else will happen. Employers will hire fewer low-skilled workers. Others will let some current workers go. Some will choose not to expand their businesses. A few will close altogether. If an employer believes a worker creates only about $5.15 worth of value on the job, he won't pay $7, even if the government demands it.

Only 2.5 percent of all hourly workers make $5.15 an hour (or less; some jobs are exempt from the law), says the Department of Labor. "Minimum wage workers tend to be young."

Few of them stay at the minimum wage for long. As they acquire skills, their productivity rises and they command higher wages. According to a study done for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "minimum wages have virtually no effect on the careers of most workers."

It's hard to find an upside to a policy that robs so many unskilled workers of the opportunity to gain skills and experience.

Ron Lewis: 1, Everyone Else: 0

Ron Lewis (R-2nd) was the sole member of Kentucky's U.S. House delegation to vote against a federal hike in the minimum wage. For everyone else, I've got a book you need to read.

January 7, 2007

Key Vote: Budget Transparency

Any Kentucky House member who wants transparency to return to state budgeting should seriously consider signing on as a cosponsor of Joe Fischer's bill to give the public greater access to the state budget and all the spending contained therein. It's a basic nonpartisan piece of legislation to make Kentucky's government more transparent and accountable. In short, it's a no-brainer.

So far, Mr. Fischer is totally alone in supporting the bill. Will the real government watchdogs please stand up? We'll be watching.

January 3, 2007

End Certificate of Need

Imagine your town has just one gas station. Imagine that this station, because of its lonely status, charges an exorbitant premium for the convenience of not having to drive 40 miles to the next town's gas station.

Now imagine that you wanted to open a gas station across the street. Do you think that gas prices would go down or up in your small town?

But what if your competitor had lobbied the state to create a complicated and expensive process required to open your new gas station. Not only that, but you have to demonstrate that your town actually needs a second gas station to begin with.

It seems insane that one must pre-emptively prove a need to engage in a profitable activity before being allowed to engage in that activity.

In medicine, such a policy is called certificate of need. Kentucky has such a law and it's time for it to go.

Stan Lee: Kentucky House Minority Whip

Rep. Stan Lee is a fine lawmaker with a strong record of fiscal conservatism. He was one of just two lawmakers who voted against 2006's bloated, ridiculous state budget. The fact that he's been elected Minority Whip in the House proves that some Republicans are serious about making fiscal responsibility a big issue in 2007. The Kentucky Club for Growth applauds the decision.

But that's no reason to kick back and expect things to work out fine. Democrats have 60 seats in the House and Senate President David Williams has already said that the Kentucky Senate will support restoring Ernie Fletcher's vetoed projects last year.

Grab your wallets.

January 2, 2007

Fletcher is no Gerald Ford

... but you'll get your chance to honor Ford, a President who actually vetoed significant spending, today in Frankfort:

FRANKFORT, Ky. State employees, members of the Kentucky General Assembly and visitors to the Capitol wishing to pay their respects to former President Gerald R. Ford will have an opportunity to do so Tuesday during a ceremony in the Rotunda.

A prayer service in remembrance of President Ford will take place at 1:30 p.m.

At 4:30 p.m., Governor Ernie Fletcher and University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey will lead a remembrance gathering in Miami during a U of L reception at the FedEx Orange Bowl.

More here.

01/07/07 : Key Vote: Budget Transparency

Projected state budget surplus is trimmed - by John Stamper, Lexington Herald-Leader...

UK study: Tax breaks create fewer jobs than state claims - by John Stamper, Lexington Herald-Leader...

Tax breaks don't create as many jobs as state claims, UK study finds - by John Stamper, Lexington Herald-Leader...

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The KY Club for Growth seeks principled candidates who are committed to the following:

* Free market principles
* Lowering taxes
* Reducing spending
* Decreasing the size of government
* Judicial reform
* Protecting property rights
* Expanding school choice
* Reducing needless regulation

We will hold endorsed candidates accountable for these principles by monitoring each candidate on a vote-by-vote basis. As a Club member, you will receive candidate monitoring updates and scorecards on a regular basis. Join us today.