Kentucky Club for Growth
fighting and winning for economic freedom

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October 31, 2008

Toomey on the Market's Obama Expectations

National Club for Growth President Pat Toomey chimes in on our recent discussion about whether the stock market's doldrums reflect expectations of Obama's anti-competitive agenda, saying that The market is afraid of Obama’s New, New Deal.  Toomey details how Obama's agenda mirrors the failed federal policies that caused the Depression.

Governor Announces Administration Exploring Cuts, Taxes

Governor Steve Beshear announced that he is expecting a $294 million budget shortfall and is going to gauge public reaction before making a specific proposal to address it in December.  Cuts and taxes are on the table.

Waiting until December is strange, and suggests broad tax changes are not on the menu.  Waiting until December puts the timing of his proposal right up against the holidays and the 2009 regular session.  In the short 2009 session, a supermajority is required for any legislation affecting state revenues, making any tax changes difficult.  By waiting until December and the holidays, legislators will be difficult to convince that a special session is necessary before they are already scheduled to return in January, and they certainly won't want to consider any substantial tax changes while the rest of Kentucky is shopping for Christmas.

While there is always the January interim period where a special session could possibly be called during a regular session, it seems more likely that the Governor will be left by the legislature to address the situation making spending cuts on his own.  Let's hope he makes them prudently rather than picking programs sure to fire up the interest groups in support of a tax increasing agenda.

October 30, 2008

Lunsford's for Patton

Lunsford has a new ad featuring some old governors.  My favorite line is from former governor Paul Patton.  He says of Lunsford:

“He knows how to make government work for people.”

Paul knew how to make the government work for certain people too, didn't he?

Folks are rightly concerned about relationships with the corrupt Ted Stevens.  They should be equally concerned about cavalier relationships with other politicians who've abused their power.

October 29, 2008

The Old New York Times

A favorite column of mine pointed out an interesting feature on the New York Times website.  In addition to endorsing the most recent Democratic nominee for President, they have picked the Democrat in the previous 12 presidential elections as you can see for yourself in the 'New York Times Endorsements Through the Ages' feature. 

Perhaps the best one is the 1940 endorsement of Wendell Willkie over a third term for FDR.  The Times took issue with a electing a president to a third term, and faulted FDR for...wait for it...

"fostering the idea that there exists a great fund of wealth which has only to be divided more equitably in order to make everyone prosperous."

Pricing in Obama

The Wall Street Journal today lays out a case for a thought that occurred to me recently:

What if the correlation between the bad stock market and Obama's popularity is reverse the conventional wisdom?  The greatest likelihood is, in fact, that the markets are pricing in the disaster that would befall our economy under an Obama administration's countless anti-competitive proposals.

George Newman examines the bad proposals from Obama that threaten growth, and some of McCain's failures as well.

October 28, 2008

A Quick Note on the Importance of Hunting RINOS

An allegiance to spending and earmarks leads to corruption and felony convictions.

Associations with the convicted are questioned and the bad actors distract from the voices of real conservatives.

Arguments attempting to discuss conservative policy are rebutted by the criminality of those who talk like conservatives but do not back up their rhetoric with votes.  Such noise drowns out substantial conversation and liberal proposals go unexamined as their champions are elected to office.

It would have been better to remove the Ted Stevens of the world from office a long time ago. 

October 27, 2008

The Races: Moore v. Weaver, House 26

Hardin County

In the 26th district, former Democrat Representative Mike Weaver attempts to avoid his third loss in a row and defeat Republican incumbent Tim Moore.

Rep. Moore has been a disappointment in the General Assembly with middling results on the Kentucky Club for Growth Scorecard.  He scored 49% in 2007 and only 57% in 2008.  In the 2008 session, Moore voted for more health insurance mandates (HB 148), for a version of the most indebted budget in Kentucky’s history that included $148 million in tax increases (HB 406) as well as for other tax increases (HB 611, HB 635, HB 689, HB 734), and for creating additional penalties for employers who have already paid restitution for misinterpreting the rules (HB 654).  On the positive side, he did cosponsor HB 105 which would have required greater transparency in government spending.

Mike Weaver has a similarly bad record, having voted to raise taxes or increase fees at least 15 times during his career in the General Assembly.  He is sometimes honest about his liberalism, answering a candidate survey in 2004 saying he would want to increase gasoline, alcohol and cigarette taxes, but then claiming in 2005 in the News-Enterprise that he should not be labeled a “a liberal tax-and-spend Democrat.”

Weaver has also been quick to guard his own income when the rest of the government tightened its belt.  In 2002, he voted against an amendment to the legislative budget that would have limited lawmaker raises to the same raises they gave the rest of state workers and teachers (RS02 HB657 HFA1).

The Races: Flood v. Ward, House 75

Fayette County 

In this open-seat race to replace Representative Kathy Stein, Republican Kimberly Ward faces Democrat Kelly Flood.

Many have described outgoing Representative Kathy Stein as a very liberal member of the General Assembly; in fact we did on this site just a few weeks ago.  On our scorecard, Representative Stein placed #56 in 2007 and #70 in 2008, which confirms the fact that she is no friend to the taxpayer. 

Kathy Stein will look like a champion of economic freedom compared to candidate Kelly Flood, who would likely challenge for the bottom of our scorecard in 2009-2010.  We will not list many details, but simply link to her resume.  We will note that she is a professional fundraiser who has worked hard to condemn the privately-owned water company in Lexington so that it could be run by the city council.

Kimberly Ward is a newcomer to politics.  In debates and forums, she has revealed an openness to raising cigarette taxes, but is otherwise an advocate of limited government and transparency. 

New Qualification for Office: Losing

The Herald-Leader editorial board is well known for its contrivances to support liberal politicians.  Yesterday they contorted reason in a previously unseen way, making losing all previous political races a new qualification for office:

Humbled and honed by two losing campaigns and months of meeting people on the campaign trail, Lunsford seems driven less by his own ego in this race than by a practical view of how he could be of use to the state and country in the Senate.

He should try that as a campaign slogan: 'Lunsford, a less egotistical loser.'

October 24, 2008

Bill Clinton's Case for Mitch McConnell?

The Club is no fan of Sen. McConnell's defense of pork spending, but today, during a stop in Bowling Green, Clinton put forth the strongest argument I have seen in support of Kentucky's current Senator:

“I’ve been there. I know what I’m talking about,” said Clinton. “If you elect Bruce Lunsford in the face of Sen. McConnell’s attacks and he is no longer the Republican leader, then the Republicans that are left – whether there’s 42, 43, 44 or even 45 of them – will say, ‘You know, maybe we ought to sit down and work something out with these Democrats..."

from polwatchers 

Credit Due?

Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Beacon re-inaugurates a column of liberty "lovers and losers" where he aims to provide credit where it is due to public figures acting in the public interest.  He states:

"Just because a public official makes a boneheaded move should not relegate them forever to the equivalent of carrying the mark of Cain by wearing the label of a foe of freedom."

In it he recognizes Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Menton's laudable review of $880 million in spending on 65 new judicial centers throughout the state.

He also rightly recognizes Governor Beshear's decision to put the state's checkbook online.  But he goes perhaps too far to describe this draggingly-slow decision as appreciating "Governors who lead." 

Beshear may have gotten one thing right, but his real leadership still seems to be in signing the most indebted budget in state history, taxpayer-funded plane rides to political events, creating task forcesexpensive horse regulations, and trying to convince the legislature to raise taxes.

October 23, 2008

The Races: Candidates on the Boone County Parks Tax

Citizens for Lower Taxes, in Boone County, has sent out a survey asking candidates where they stand on the Boone County Parks Tax.  So we can update one of our 'The Races' reports.

House 69: Koenig v. Krey
Merrick Krey has indicated he opposes the tax while Rep. Adam Keonig is the only state house candidate who did not respond.

Other candidates in the survey:
Candidate - District - Opponent - Tax Survey Response
Rep. Sal Santoro - 60th House Dist. - none - No
John Schickel - 11th Senate Dist. - none - No
Rep. Addia Wuchner - 66th House Dist. - none - No

Here's the rest of the survey.  (Hat tip to Kentucky Progress.)

Trillion with a "T"

The Club for Growth points out a useful new site from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). 

BeyondBailouts.org is keeping track of taxpayer money being thrown around in this financial crisis without any serious leadership that will actually improve the economy in the longer term:

Bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - $200 Billion
Bailout of Bear Stearns - $29 Billion
Bailout of AIG - $85 Billion
Bailout of money market funds - $50 Billion
Bailout of the rest of Wall Street - $700 Billion
Total cost to date – Over $1,000,000,000,000.
That’s one TRILLION dollars.  Trillion with a “T”!

I think they're missing the auto industry...

Check it out and sign the No More Bailouts petition.

October 22, 2008

The Races: Housman v. Renfro, House 3

McCracken County

In this open seat race, Republican businessman Brent Housman faces Democrat Zana Renfro. 

There is a strong contrast between these two candidates on some important issues.

Renfro opposes tort reform, pledging instead to work with trial attorneys to limit admittedly frivolous lawsuits, as if they will suddenly start self-policing.  Housman pledges to work to limit lawsuit abuse.

Where Housman recognizes that prevailing wage laws are unfairly constructed and an artificial cost to taxpayers, Renfro oddly claims it keeps the workforce efficient.

Finally, Renfro opposes making Kentucky a right-to-work state and Houseman supports it.

In a recent debate, Renfro advocated a higher cigarette tax as an opportunity to increase spending on health and education, and also said it was necessary to increase state spending to local governments.  Renfro also advocated allowing local governments to impose restaurant taxes to increase revenues.

Housman, on the other hand, advocated limited government, and cost saving measures like "2+2" programs that encourage students to attend two years of community colleges before moving on to two years of university programs.

The Races: DeCesare v. Rabold, House 21

Warren County

Republican Representative Jim DeCesare is defending his seat against Democrat Charlene Rabold. 

In Warren County, fiscal conservatives have a champion in Jim DeCesare, who was one of two 2007 Defenders of Economic Freedom and scored a comfortable 78% in 2008.  

DeCesare has been a strong conservative leader, introducing legislation to improve transparency, working to make Kentucky a right-to-work state, opposing the indebted 2006 budget legislation and supporting other legislation that will make Kentucky a better place for growth and entrepreneurship.  In 2008 he opposed tax increases and budgets with excessive spending and debt (HB 262, HB 406, HB 407).  Unfortunately, he did support health care mandates before changing his vote in the record (HB 148) and he supported the double penalty on employers for employee misclassification (HB 654). 

His opponent is strong in her anti-growth stances.  She ridicules the need to make Kentucky a right-to-work state, and says she would support HB 382 which would muddle the prohibition against wage discrimination, opening a large door to frivolous lawsuits.  Perhaps most gallingly, in a recent debate she ridiculed Jim DeCesare’s resolution honoring Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman on his death.  Where DeCesare is a champion of pro-growth policy, it seems that Rabold is its enemy.

October 21, 2008

The Races: Glenn v. Boarman, House 13

Daviess County

Democrat Jim Glenn faces Owensboro Republican businessman Ben Boarman in his first reelection.

Representative Glenn has been endorsed by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce despite having a very anti-business record.  After ranking #91 in 2007 he did improve to #62 in 2008, still an incredibly anti-growth record for any candidate.  Rep. Glenn actually holds the dubious distinction of being one of two Representatives to vote ‘yea’ on every single vote scored by the Kentucky Club for Growth.  This means that he voted both to kill SB 16 and voted for its passage.  SB 16 simply clarifies that government employees are not allowed to use state time to lobby for political ballot initiatives.

Glenn also voted for additional health insurance mandates (HB 148), $148 million in new and higher taxes (HB 262), the most indebted budget in the history of the commonwealth (HB 406),  a bloated legislative budget (HB 407), harsh new double penalties for employers (HB 654), new taxing authorities (HB 689) and new employment taxes (HB 611).

In a recent conversation, Mr. Boarman explained that, in the General Assembly, he would work to compile an actual pro-business record that reduced mandates, reduced taxes and increased accountability.  The Kentucky Club for Growth often suggests the General Assembly needs more businessmen and women and that is Ben Boarman’s background. 

Updated: Prepare To Be Last

When we evaluate Kentucky against our neighbors, we are often saved from being ranked last thanks to our neighbor to the east. 

Prepare to be last.

In Cato's 2008 'Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors,' West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin receives one of three 'A' grades:

Joe Manchin was elected promising to pull West Virginia out of the economic doldrums, and he has taken important steps to that end. After an initial severance tax increase in 2005, Manchin has concentrated on cutting business taxes to help boost investment in his state. In 2006, Manchin approved a reduction in the business franchise tax and the corporate income tax. In 2007, he cut the franchise tax further. In 2008, Manchin signed into law a phased-in repeal of the business franchise tax and a reduction in the corporate income tax rate, which will save state businesses about $120 million annually when fully phased in. Manchin has also reduced the sales tax on groceries and supported various other tax cuts. On spending, Manchin has been very restrained in his budgeting, calling for overall reductions in most years, but the legislature has ended up passing substantial increases.

Elsewhere, the report notes that:

Democrat Joe Manchin, for example, has enacted probably the most pro-growth tax reforms of any governor.

Kentucky is not ranked because our current Governor came to office during the evaluation period (and before you look, neither is Alaska) but isn't it hard to imagine anything similar ever being written about Governor Beshear?  I don't even think he's ever hinted at any goals other than raising state revenues and getting members of his own party elected.

UPDATE 2: David Adams picked up on the same thing.

UPDATE: the Club for Growth takes issue with Florida Governor Crist's 'A' grade for his 'Caney Mac insurance scheme.

Beshearo World: Task Forces > Action

During his campaign, Governor Beshear outlined a plan to create a program to guarantee college affordability for Kentuckians.  Now he’s not so sure.  Instead of action, he's proposing a task force.

True to his love of more government, the governor is creating a task force to “study affordability of and access to higher education.”  Although there’s always the obvious, supply-and-demand truth that college in Kentucky is more expensive because there more students, why not keep a bunch of your political friends busy to help you put off action on a campaign promise?

It's not as if solutions are unavailable.

The article suggests that:

“If action were not taken, it would be impossible to reach a goal of doubling the number of holders of bachelor's degrees to 800,000 by 2020, interim council president Richard A. Crofts said this summer.”

Of course, Kentucky’s Long Term Policy Research Center has shown long ago that Kentucky’s biggest impediment to reaching the double the numbers goals is a lack of population (see 'Step 5').

The Races: Clark v. Hawkins, Senate 37

Jefferson County

Democrat Senator Perry Clark is defending his Senate seat against Republican city councilman Doug Hawkins.

While Senator Clark is defending his seat, it is his first regular election.  He was elected to the Senate in a special election after Republican Dana Seum Stephenson won the seat in 2004 but was ruled ineligible. 

Senator Clark has libertarian tendencies on some issues, but has ranked near the bottom of the Senate in both the 2007 (#25) and 2008 (#24) scorecards.  In 2008 he was penalized for

  • voting against better legislative accountability by moving the filing deadline to April (HB 18 SFA3),
  • voting for a legislative budget that included a 10% appropriations increase (HB 407),
  • creating a new 2% occupational tax (HB 611), and
  • voting against repealing the Office of the Treasurer (SB 14).

He is running against Councilman Doug Hawkins.  Hawkins is known as a strong conservative in Louisville and takes pride in having voted against most if not all of Mayor Jerry Abramson’s budgets.  He says he is first and foremost a defender of the taxpayer by pointing to his vigorous resistance to city land giveaways and overly generous labor deals such as the Louisville arena and the Cordish Deal.

October 20, 2008

The Races: Keonig v. Krey, House 69

Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties

Republican Representative Adam Koenig is defending his House seat against Democrat Merrick Krey.

Where Rep. Koenig ranked #6 in 2007, he fell to #12 in 2008, both with underwhelming scores in the 60s.

In 2008, Koenig boldly voted against a health insurance mandate (HB 148) that passed the House 80-7, and against penalizing businesses for already corrected employee classification mistakes (HB 654).  He did, however, support the budget that depended on those tax increases (HB 406) and the spending hikes in the legislative budget (HB 407).  In a recent debate, he championed tort reform and reform of prevailing wage laws.

In the debate, Krey would not acknowledge that Kentucky's prevailing wage system is not representative of any local wage and unfairly cost taxpayers money.  He also opposed important changes to reduce health care costs such as medical liability reform or reductions in health care mandates that make health insurance more expensive for everyone.

The Races: Westwood v. Groob, Senate 23

Kenton County

Republican Senator Jack Westwood is defending his Senate seat against Democrat businesswoman Kathy Groob.

Senator Westwood fared poorly on the Club's 2007 scorecard, ranking in a large tie of Senators with only 61%.  In 2008 he fared better with 77%, by voting to provide better accountability to legislators by changing the filing deadline to April (HB 18 SFA3), voting to eliminate the unnecessary Office of the Treasurer (SB 14), and voting against an incorporation of sundry bad bills (HB 704).  He missed numerous chances to stand against bad budget bills, but stated his opposition to a cigarette tax increase and tax increases in general in a recent debate.

Ms. Groob also stated her opposition to cigarette and other tax increases in that debate, and pointed out Sen. Westwood's support of Governor Fletcher's tax modernization, which included support for a number of tax increases including the creation of the gross receipts tax.  Westwood responded that tax modernization was revenue neutral.

Kathy Groob’s extensive business career suggests an experience that is too often lacking in a legislature filled with many retired state employees.  We are given pause, however, by her opinion that the state needs casinos to generate revenue for state government.  Avoiding a discussion of the pros and cons of casinos in Kentucky, we feel that expanding government revenue is never a primary or sufficient reason for any policy and betrays an interest in expanding government.

Cutting Waste

The National Taxpayers Union and Council for Citizens Against Government Waste have written a letter to our Presidential candidates suggesting over $2 trillion specific budget cuts.

Earmarked for Corruption

The Seattle Times has compiled an incredible database called the 'Favor Factory' that allows you to view both the defense earmarks a particular legislator has procured, and the amount those earmark recipients have donated to the legislator's campaign.

Here are the numbers for Kentucky's delegation:

 
  2008 Defense Earmarks2003-08 Campaign Contributions from Earmark Recipients
McConnell$86,600,000$262,550
Bunning$15,400,000$86,566
Whitfield$7,600,000$18,250
Lewis$3,000,000$49,750
Yarmuth$5,280,000$5,250
Davis$8,400,000$168,050
Rogers$16,200,000$214,625
Chandler$5,400,000$31,250

Another Failed Universal Health Care Experiment

Hawaii is ending its attempt to provide universal health care for children.  Here's the shocker:

"People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free," said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. "I don't believe that was the intent of the program."

I'm especially amused that 'that wasn't the intent of the program.'

Will Senator Obama be similarly shocked when the same thing happens to his plan?

The Races: Ellinger v. Stein, Senate 13

Fayette County

In this open-seat race to replace Kentucky's lowest-ranked Senator, #70-ranked Representative Kathy Stein faces Fayette County Councilman Chuck Ellinger.

Representative Stein is a Democrat with a liberal record.  In 2007 she ranked in the middle of her fellow Representatives at #56, but in 2008, a budget year, she fell to #70.  Her low ranking is due to

  • her support for legislation to prevent mining companies from using fill practices that are common in homebuilding, road construction and commercial development (HB 164),
  • supporting the $148 million tax increase (HB 262),
  • supporting the unionization of state employees (HB 403), and
  • voting twice against legislation that says classified government employees can't canvas for political ballot initiatives while at work (SB 64).

Councilman Ellinger is a Republican whose record of opposing tax increases on the city council is not unwavering.  In a recent debate he expressed interest in raising cigarette taxes, although he was trumped in his enthusiasm for it by Rep. Stein. 

Ellinger provides a contrast when he offers the reasonable claim that Rep. Stein never met a tax she didn't like and says he believes Kentuckians are "overtaxed," while Stein entertains raising taxes on small businesses.

October 16, 2008

Backwards

The judge seems to have ruled that Kentucky can take over Yahoo because it runs your Fantasy Football League.

While he recognizes that the Internet is fancy and part of "modern day life;" there is no distinction between the domain name "Yahoo" and an actual gambling device; there is no distinction about whether gambling is actually conducted on the domain name; and he stipulates that Kentucky is harmed because, if it weren't for the use of the internet, you would be playing the lottery.

October 15, 2008

Expensive Horses!

First, they wanted to double their staff.

Next, they wanted to double their budget.

Now, the Horse Racing Commission is telling the Governor that they will need a 150% budget increase to "take a leadership role" which is necessary because "times are tough economically."

The Commission has certainly shown leadership in imagining more ways to spend tax dollars!  Do they think they're Bobby Sherman or something?

October 14, 2008

The Opposite of What We Need

From the Club for Growth:
Obama’s New Economic Plan – The Opposite of What We Need.

 

Jim DeCesare

A letter in the Bowling Green Daily News describes 2007 Defender of Economic Freedom Jim DeCesare:

Nov. 4 is quickly approaching and with the recent decline in the national economy, this election is more important than ever.

We need to elect officials who care about the people in our community. We need a representative with the experience to carry us through the next two years with honesty and integrity. That is why we need to re-elect state Rep. Jim DeCesare in the 21st legislative district in Warren County.

The Kentucky Club For Growth is a bipartisan organization dedicated to the Reagan ideals of lower taxes and less government regulation. Jim DeCesare is one of only four Kentucky legislators in history to earn their “Defender Of Economic Freedom” award. Jim DeCesare has voted against raising mortgage fees, against increasing income taxes, against higher property taxes and against removing the cap on property taxes. These votes show that Jim DeCesare is the kind of representative we need to re-elect to serve our area and protect our tax dollars.

Jim DeCesare is a representative who thrives on working for you, the citizens of Warren County. Proved by the voting facts previously mentioned, we can trust that Jim DeCesare will have the best interest of Warren County taxpayers in mind. Jim DeCesare will fight for our future as individuals, as a community and as a country. I urge all Warren Countians to get out and vote on Nov. 4. Vote for your future, vote for Jim DeCesare.

Amanda Huggins
Bowling Green

October 13, 2008

Kentucky State Races

Over the next two weeks we'll be offering the details we know about candidates in races for the General Assembly.  For a good starting point and background, Ryan Alessi summarizes the financial reports of some of the most competitive. 

Groob v. Westwood tops the list as the most expensive.

Jody Richards = Captain Renault

While Kentucky Senate President David Williams continues to make the false claim that the Sherman raise saves the state money, he also points out the incredible hypocrisy of House Speaker Jody Richards in a recent op-ed:

As of Sept. 25, the House majority leadership (Democrats) employed 25 staffers with a total payroll of more than $1.780 million while the Senate majority leadership (Republicans) employed only 16 staffers with a total payroll of $968,000.

If Richards has decided to set the 1 percent pay increase for state employees as the bar to measure all other salary increases against, he has failed the test miserably. Two House majority leadership staffers received salary increases of more than 40 percent this year with the speaker giving one employee a 43 percent pay increase, almost the exact amount Richards finds so objectionable when applied to the LRC director.

In fact, 11 House majority leadership staffers received raises of 10 percent or more this year with only four Senate majority leadership staffers receiving a raise of more than 1 percent.

Richards' crocodile tears shed for state employees are not compelling, and his shortsighted attempts to criticize a bipartisan action of the LRC should be seen only as part of his campaign to remain speaker.

You Know You're Really Wrong When...

Even Larry Dale Keeling realizes Beshear is wasting everyone's time with his Internet trifle:

To this non-lawyer, the attorneys representing the owners of gambling sites made a good argument that even though illegal on-line gambling clearly is occurring in Kentucky, the state's courts don't have jurisdiction to approve seizure of the domain names because none of the registrars that register them nor the registrants that own them are located in the state. 

They made a similarly cogent argument that, rather than being "gambling devices" as the state's lawyers claim, these domain names are more akin to your local bookie's phone number or street address.

October 9, 2008

Strapped

"Frankfort chronically faces a cash crunch, but during a Wednesday night televised debate, candidates in a Northern Kentucky state senate district distanced themselves from raising taxes."

Begins an article covering a debate in Northern Kentucky.

State's revenue drops, governor tries to reassure KY

Reads the headline over at polwatchers.

The media is so sure there's a revenue problem, that it's hard to even fathom that the reality is that state revenue is increasing.  David Adams at BIPPS explains:

Revenues for the first quarter of the 2009-10 fiscal year were $17,798,488 higher than they were a year ago. Even if you include the $15 million drop in the Road Fund, increased revenues point yet again to the need to get spending under control rather than hitting taxpayers any harder.

We aren't strapped for cash, we're strapped for truth!

99 of 99

A few Sundays ago, we ran an editorial in the Georgetown News Graphic to respond to an earlier article and editorial and explain why Charlie Hoffman ranked at the bottom of the state House.  Here is the editorial:

Sorry Charlie, name-calling won’t change your votes

For the second year, the Kentucky Club for Growth has published our Legislative Scorecard -- our tool to help citizens find out about the policy decisions their legislators are making in Frankfort.

Georgetown has the interesting distinction this year of being represented by legislators at the top and bottom of our lists, which was noted in a story Tuesday in the Georgetown News-Graphic.

In the article, Senator Damon Thayer noted that after receiving a low ranking in 2007, he “rededicated [him]self to fiscal conservatism.”  His dedication to the Kentucky taxpayer is reflected in his #2 ranking in 2008 and prompted Club President Brian Richmond to remark “I don’t know that fiscal conservatives had a better champion in the Senate than Senator Thayer.”

Representative Hoffman however, who ranked 99th out of 99 members of the House, lashed out:
“The interest they have in growth is the growth in the wealthy’s bank accounts.”
“These people make Rush Limbaugh look like a liberal.”
“I don’t pay any attention to the rankings of fringe issue groups.”

Fringe issues?  The Kentucky Club for Growth is a bipartisan, non-profit advocate for taxpayers.  We advocate lower taxes and limited government.

Charlie Hoffman’s low ranking is based entirely on his actions in the 2008 General Assembly Regular Session.  These include:

  • Voting twice against legislation that says classified government employees can’t canvas for political ballot initiatives while at work (SB 64)
  • Supporting $148 million in new taxes and tax increases to expand spending (HB 262)
  • Spending those tax increases in the most indebted budget in state history (HB 406)
  • Supporting a legislative budget that grows at over 5% per year, well above historic rates of inflation (HB 407)
  • Creating extra penalties for employers who have already paid for classification mistakes made in a system that has different rules from worksite to worksite (HB 654)
  • Sponsoring legislation that singles out mining for fill practices that are common in homebuilding, road construction and commercial development (HB 164)
  • Supporting new mandates that make health insurance more expensive for everyone (HB 148)
  • Supporting a new 2% tax on wages for new businesses in ‘development areas’ that in only some cases offset against other taxes (HB 611)

Representative Hoffman states: “I have always voted for an agenda to make a better economic landscape in the state of Kentucky for everyone’s benefit.” 

We leave it to you to decide whether his actions square with his words, and encourage you to contact Representative Hoffman and let him know what a better economic landscape would look like.

To find out more about the scorecard and the Club, please visit our website at www.kyclubforgrowth.org.

###

Andy Hightower is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Club for Growth, a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to economic freedom, limited government, lower taxes and less regulation. 

Louisville's Cordish Bailout

I don't know whether the Cordish Company that runs 4th Street Live in Louisville is in trouble, but it seems Mayor Abramson is proposing a Paulson Bailout-type deal to them.  In much the same way Congress provided funding without instruction to Secretary Paulson, Mayor Jerry is askig for a few-strings-attached, $31 million dollar giveaway to the company.  John David Dyche provides the details:

The city will cover $2.5 million of Cordish's design, engineering and marketing costs. It will also lend, and likely forgive, $1.8 million to a Cordish affiliate to renovate the Starks Building's first floor for restaurant use. Metro government will sell the Galleria parking garage to Cordish for $2.7 million and a return promise of $500,000 in improvements.

Finally, the city is giving Cordish $2 million to "attract tenants" to the "very successful" Fourth Street Live. As part of this complex transaction, the city gives up more than $25 million Cordish evidently owes on that deal.

In addition, the city is buying land at a premium above its assessed value, then leasing it to Cordish for $1 per year.

The Courier-Journal describes efforts by Republicans and some Democrats on the city council to get guarantees about returned investment in the city.

"Deals" like this provide new appreciation for projects that risk their own dime.

Lexington Parking Behemoth

The Herald-Leader today provides a report on new downtown parking meters that really colors in the city's incredible plan to create a giant downtown parking bureaucracy that will support debt payments for the "annual $700,000-plus bond payment issued for the Transit Center parking garage."

I was a bit surprised earlier this year when I saw television advertisements declaring that parking enforcement would be stepped up, a somewhat strange expenditure to say the government was doing what it was supposed to do.  But apparently it was PR for a multi-step plan:

  1. Dedicate five parking enforcers to ticketing violators.
  2. Install 300 new parking meters.
  3. Quadruple parking fees to a rate that is double what Louisville charges.

Charging an adequate fee for public parking to pay for transit-related debt is fine, but what percentage of this hike is going to support this new bureaucracy, equipment and fancy parking meters? 

Is the city charging higher fees only for the sake of creating more government dedicated to charging higher fees?

PVAs and Their Children

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission is attempting to crack down on nepotism in PVA offices around the state.  Eleven PVAs under investigation are arguing that they shouldn't be overseen by the Commission, rather than fixing the problem. 

There is some legal question about whether PVAs are actually within the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, but they shouldn't waste their time litigating the problem.  This sort of question can be easily removed by some industrious legislator in January.

October 8, 2008

Another Note on $700 Billion

We've all heard that the bailout was necessary to ease a credit crunch, remove bad paper from the financial system and prop up manufacturers of wooden arrows.  Now it seems that credit not as crunchy as you may have been led to believe:

Kentucky sells $390 million in bonds (BG Daily News)

We're From The Government and We're Here to Help

Fresh off the passage of the $700 billion government intervention in the financial system, all kinds of government expansionist ideas are being given voice. 

First was Senator McCain's proposal to get the government into the mortgage renegotiation business (at least it's not the courts?).

Now, up in Indiana, Gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson wants to create a system for her state to intervene with taxpayer money to prop up failing companies.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson has proposed an early warning system that would help the state determine when a business gets into financial trouble so officials could intervene to save companies and jobs.

...

Her newest idea is the early warning system, which would look at utility use reports, public loan defaults and other sources to try to detect when a company is in trouble. Her campaign said the program could also track delayed payments to vendors, another sign that a firm is struggling.

"When an early warning is triggered, we will immediately disperse teams of trained professionals who will offer businesses retention services," Thompson said in her One Indiana Plan.

Is the government really so good at running itself that we want it running our businesses and our personal finances?

CJE Says Campbell Countians Unconcerned About Tax Increases

In an article about how Campbell County's leaders think the state budget and a repeal of an unfair tax is an excuse to raise property taxes, Campbell Co. CJE Pendry offers the following strange statement:

"people typically don't take any interest in the county's tax rate when the county takes a 4 percent revenue increase each year."

Are Campbell County residents really unconcerned when their property taxes are annually hiked to the maximum extent possible?

Rove and Myers at NKU

In what should be a pretty interesting discussion, Karl Rove and Dee Dee Myers are coming to NKU on Thursday.

October 7, 2008

Subscribe to the KYCFG blog!

It's always been an option, but now it's easier than ever to subscribe to the Kentucky Club for Growth Blog!  We've added a little RSS icon up in the top-right corner, and added the feed to feedburner so it's easy to find the format you prefer.

Alessi Lists 20 Races to Watch

The Herald-Leader's Ryan Alessi lists 20 political races to watch in Kentucky.

Races 1-10
Races 11-20

The Commonwealth v. The Internet

Yesterday, a group of think-tanks, advocates and trade associations gathered to protest Governor Beshear's lawsuit against the Internet pictured below.  While some were interested in protecting the freedom of the internet and others were self-interested, all agreed that this was a bad idea.

Beshear de la Manchia
(from the C-J's Dan Fitzgerald)

Business Tax Climate

We're #34 according to the Tax Foundation's 2009 State Business Tax Climate Index.  Kentucky receives low marks across the board with the exception of sales tax.  Kentucky is indexed at a particularly high unemployment insurance rate.

October 6, 2008

Financial Troubles

David Adams has a good find over at KyProgress:

The Lexington Herald Leader and the Louisville Courier Journal were too busy this weekend to print it, but bond rating agency Fitch had this to say about Kentucky:

"The Negative Outlook reflects plans to continue to deplete fund balances and virtually drain the budget reserve trust in the current biennium. Further, Fitch remains concerned about the weakened pension funding levels and the commonwealth's rising debt position as an additional $1.65 billion in debt has been authorized for the biennium."

I'd like to bullet out these notes with specifics:

  • "virtually drain the budget reserve trust in the current biennium"

The biennial budget spends $191 million of the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, dropping it from $215 million to only $24 million.

  • "weakened pension funding levels"

After no action on pensions during the 2008 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed a bill in Extraordinary Session committed to actually funding pension system deficits in future budgets (just not right now).

  • "the commonwealth's rising debt position "

Appropriation supported debt service as a percentage of total revenue is projected by the budget office to average 6.1% in this biennium, a higher level than any in history and a 17% increase over FY 07-08.

October 2, 2008

Studies in Fleecing

I don't know if any of you watched the press conference that followed the Senate vote last night, but there was no shortage of quotes about 'coming together to do what's best for the country.'

Apparently US Senate leadership feels that wool studies and domestic rum are critical to the functioning of the US economy.  As if the bailout wasn't pork enough:

The special provisions include tax breaks for:

* Manufacturers of kids' wooden arrows - $6 million.

* Puerto Rican and Virgin Is- lands rum producers - $192 million.

* Wool research.

* Auto-racing tracks - $128 million.

* Corporations operating in American Samoa - $33 million.

* Small- to medium-budget film and television productions - $10 million.

October 1, 2008

Budgeting is About Priorities

Remember a month ago when the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission suggested they needed a 33% budget increase to more than double their staff?

The cost of the additional staff would be about $1 million a year. The commission's budget is now about $3 million a year. Underwood did not make any recommendations about the source of the money.

Now they want to double their budget and are proposing the increase come out of the General Fund.

A task force on the future of horse racing wants to recapture betting taxes to beef up regulation of the sport.

More than $13 million is collected annually on parimutuel wagering, but only about $424,000 goes into the yearly budget of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Kentucky spends far less on regulation per racing day than other major racing states do. Most of the tax money is dedicated to purses, but about $4.8 million goes into the state General Fund.

So, the Commission gets 3.2% of betting taxes outright.  Those taxes commit $8.2 million back to the industry as racing purses.  Those taxes commit another $4.8 million to the General Fund, some amount of which returns in some way to make the Commission's $3 million annual budget. 

Earlier, the Commission only wanted an additional $1 million to double the staff.  Now, they apparently want more than that:

The additional money would more than double the racing commission's current $3.1 million budget.

Which, although it's more than they seem to provide the General Fund, some academic says it isn't much:

Robert Lawrence, former director of the University of Louisville's equine industry program, said the tax money amounts to less than 1 percent of the $18.8 billion two-year state budget.

And some guy who bets more annually than the Commission spends in three years says it's good:

Mike Maloney, a Lexington handicapper who said he bets about $10 million a year, said improved integrity could increase handle on Kentucky racing.

Any sport needs refs, but I don't expect the suggestion that the state isn't spending enough of our budget to generate betting will carry very far.

Drivel

Over at Politickerky.com, Trey Pollard makes the ridiculous claim that two different polls asking two different questions are in any way comparable.

Along the way, no one has given any reason to believe the new poll; it's not as if Kentuckians get excited about our politicians using tax dollars to campaign.

UPDATE: Hebert reports that SurveyUSA provides a more realistic assessment.

Legislators React to Their Staffing

Over in the C-J, Stephanie Steitzer rounds up the legislators' positions and statements on the Sherman raise and notes that Richards doesn't have the votes to punitively go back on the raise. 

If Richards really cared he wouldn't thrash around about rescinding raises now, rather he would have planned for Sherman's entirely predictable retirement.  He's in charge of half of the General Assembly after all.

Governor Announces Administration Exploring Cuts, Taxes
Governor Steve Beshear announced that he is expecting a $294 million budget shortfall and is going to gauge public reaction before making a specific proposal to address it in December.  Cuts and taxes are on the table.Waiting until December is...

Strapped
The media is so sure there's a revenue problem, that it's hard to even fathom that the reality is that state revenue is increasing.

Business Tax Climate
We're #34 according to the Tax Foundation's 2009 State Business Tax Climate Index.

Financial Troubles
"The Negative Outlook reflects plans to continue to deplete fund balances and virtually drain the budget reserve trust in the current biennium. Further, Fitch remains concerned about the weakened pension funding levels and the commonwealth's rising debt position as an additional $1.65 billion in debt has been authorized for the biennium."

Quality Sites

Cato Institute
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Blogs

AFP Blog
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American Spectator
Ankle Biting Pundits
Betsy's Page
Boudreaux's Blog
Business & Media Institute
Cafe Hayek
Callaxy.net
Cato @ Liberty
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Constrained Vision, A
Coyote Blog
Dean's World
Federalist
Flash Report
Grassroots PA
Kudlow's Money Politics
Manufacturers' Blog
Marginal Revolution
NTU's Government Bytes
Newmark's Door
One Man's Trash
PoliPundit
Politics1.com
Politics of Money
Poor and Stupid
Porkopolis
Professor Bainbridge
Raising Farrahzona
RedState.com
Rossputin.com
Sibby Online
South Dakota Politics
Sports Economist, The
Tax Guru

Kentucky Blogs

Bluegrass Policy Blog
Blue Grass, Red State
ConservaChick
Conservative Edge
Conservative Musings
CyberHillbilly
Elendil's Blog
Jefferson Review
Jim Clark's Muckraker
Kentucky Pachyderm 2
Kentucky Progress
KY Wordsmith
On the Right!
Osi Speaks!
Page One Kentucky
The Pure Investor
Vere Loqui

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

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