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April 30, 2009

How to Create a Budget Crisis (part II)

Back last November, we told you how to go about creating a budget crisis.

They projected a $456 million shortfall, that today looks like a $191 million shortfall.

We told you how that $191 million is covered if the Governor made the $147 million in cuts he promised back in December, because the tax hikes from this session will increase state revenues by $52 million.

We've explained how State Budget Director Mary Lassiter has suggested that these promised cuts were not made, and that the Governor is planning to show us April's revenue numbers and tell us that they're unexpectedly low, despite the fact we should all expect them to be low, just as we should expect May's revenues to rebound.

In fact, where the state might legitimately face a $46 million shortfall in FY 2010, the Governor is likely to claim a shortfall above $500 million, largely because he has failed to cut spending like he promised and he plans on using the worst numbers he can find.

We'll show you the math in a little bit. Here's the proof that our predictions are materializing from the Herald Leader:

FRANKFORT - Gov. Steve Beshear and his budget team huddled behind closed doors Thursday morning in the Capitol with legislative leaders to discuss the state's financial picture.

The administration is bracing for a budget shortfall in the new fiscal year that begins July 1, but so far has not indicated its amount.

Beshear has scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference in the Capitol to release internal revenue projections for current and upcoming fiscal years.

He also will provide an update on cautionary measures involving swine flu.

Beshear has said he might ask a group of independent economists known as the Consensus Forecasting Group to provide revenue projections for the next fiscal year.

He also has said a special legislative session might be needed to deal with a major shortfall.

The administration has not yet offered any specific remedies. Some people are talking about the prospects of casino gambling in Kentucky.

This year's legislative session had to address a nearly half-billion budget shortfall for this fiscal year. Taxes were raised on tobacco products and alcoholic beverages and various cuts were implemented.

Beshear and lawmakers started their meeting Thursday at 10:18 a.m. in room 110 of the Capitol.

The group included Mary Lassiter and John Hicks from the budget office, Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes and Transportation Secretary Joe Prather.

April 29, 2009

Sen. Gary Tapp to Retire, Endorses Hornback

In news apparently first reported by Page One, Senator Gary Tapp will not seek reelection in 2010.

Senator Tapp represents Shelby, Spencer, and Bullitt Counties.

After a dismal score of 61 on the Kentucky Club for Growth's 2007 scorecard, his score of 80 in 2008 was good for a ranking of #4 overall. Senator Tapp has endeavored to be a friend of small businesses and often succeeded.

Shelby county is Represented in the House by Brad Montell, who ranked #5 in 2008 with a score of 79. Senator Tapp has already endorsed a successor however.

From the Sentinel-News:

Senator Tapp also endorsed Shelby County agriculture leader Paul Hornback to succeed him. Hornback, a well known leader in the agriculture community, plans to file his candidacy papers this week. Hornback has held leadership positions in the Kentucky Farm Bureau, the Council on Burley Tobacco, the Kentucky Farm Service Agency and the Shelby County Fair Board.

Discussing his endorsement, Hornback stressed his commitment to conservative values and creating a better business environment in Kentucky.

"I've been engaged in numerous public policy issues and look forward to drawing on that experience as a State Senator. I will take my experience, conservative values, and sincere desire to improve our area's economy to the floor of the Senate each day," Hornback said.

"My legislative goals are simple. I hope to unify the citizens of this district around an agenda that improves our economy, ensures a safe place for us to raise our families, and provides our children with a quality education. If we do those things, this will be a district where business can flourish and people can find good jobs," Hornback said.

We have had the opportunity to work with Paul Hornback in the past, and have known him to be a very intelligent and engaged citizen outside of public office. We look forward to finding out more about his commitment to creating a better environment for businesses to grow in Kentucky and protecting the Kentucky taxpayer.

April 28, 2009

More from the Club for Growth on Specter

...But the only person to blame for Arlen Specter's defection is...Arlen Specter. Today, the senior senator from Pennsylvania proved that he cares about one thing and one thing only: Holding on to his thirty years of political power, no matter who he has to step on or what principles he has to trample on along the way. And yet, this is the kind of politician Ramesh Ponnuru and Sen. Graham think will help the Republican Party rebuild itself? This is the kind of "Republican" that will help the GOP regain the voters' trust?

If anything, Arlen Specter is the epitome of everything voters have come to hate about the Republican Party--the desperate grasping for power and the complete rejection of the principles the Party claims to stand for.

Read more...

The Club for Growth on Arlen Specter

Club for Growth Statement on Arlen Specter's Decision to Switch Parties

WASHINGTON - Upon learning that Arlen Specter has switched political parties, now joining the Democrats in a filibuster-proof U.S. Senate, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola issued this statement:

"Senator Specter has confirmed what we already knew - he's a liberal devoted to more spending, more bailouts, and less economic freedom. Thanks to him, Democrats will now be able to steamroll their big government agenda through the Senate.

"This also shows how unprincipled he is. Just a few weeks ago, he stated quite clearly that he was remaining a Republican because he thought he had 'a more important role to play there.' And he said 'the United States very desperately needs a two-party system.'

"This cynical play for political survival calls into question whether Pennsylvania taxpayers can believe anything Arlen Specter says. If his only principle is personal ambition, can he really be trusted with the serious issues that face our country?"

Arlen Specter

From www.specter2010.com/news6.html:

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party.

April 27, 2009

Chrysler's Got Nothing on Kentucky

As part of the negotiations between Chrysler, Fiat and the US Government about rescuing Chrysler, one of the large issues being negotiated is how to deal with the $10 billion Chrysler owes their retiree health pension fund.

Down the street, GM owes only $13.5 billion.

Oh that we were a bankrupt auto manufacturer. Kentucky's unfunded pension liability was $30 billion at last estimate. Maybe we can work out a deal with Oregon.

April 24, 2009

Geoff Davis Dismisses Tea Parties, Club for Growth

Wednesday on The Pulse, Leland Conway's radio show on WLAP 840 in Lexington, Leland got to interview Kentucky Congressman Geoff Davis.

In the interview, Davis calls the ideas of the Tea Parties, that bailouts and reckless spending is bad and the expansion of liberty is good, as "Pie in the Sky", then proceeds to criticize the Club for Growth, saying as David Adams transcribes:

"A lot of conservative groups like Club for Growth and others unfortunately spend all their time going after Republicans. As I've shared, it would be nice if they tried to defeat a liberal now and then."

Mr. Davis, just because someone has an "R" next to their name doesn't mean that that person is voting to uphold conservative principles.

In fact, if there are Republicans in Republican districts who vote for taxes and spending, then they should be the top priority for replacement. While we will continue to educate Americans in all districts, it is these winnable districts that are most important to be represented by those who will reliably cast conservative votes. We could run candidates against Nancy Pelosi all we want and it would never matter. But if there's someone in a district like southern Indiana who should be a reliable conservative vote but isn't, then that district deserves a reliable conservative vote.

As Pat Toomey put it in an editorial last year:

The Club for Growth Political Action Committee has long been attacked for intervening in Republican primaries and targeting the party's most economically liberal incumbents.

-snip-

Republicans would be better off, the argument goes, if the Club PAC spent its money targeting Democrats instead of liberal Republicans. This is the argument of politicians who care more about maintaining power than using that power to implement conservative policies.

Thus comes the demand for an uncompromising obeisance to the bottom line: Elect as many Republicans as possible, regardless of how they will vote once in office.

It is for this reason that challenges to incumbents are deemed sacrilegious, no matter how far the incumbent has strayed from conservative principles. And it is for this reason that party leaders defend some of the most liberal incumbents, also known as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), and assail the Club PAC for helping to elect true conservatives.

-snip-

A Republican majority is only as useful as the policies that majority produces. When those policies look a lot like Democratic ones, the base rightly questions why it should keep Republicans in power. As the party gears up for elections in the fall, it ought to look closely at the losses suffered under a political strategy devoid of principle. Otherwise, it can look forward to a bad case of déjà vu.

National Club for Growth Releases 2008 Scorecard

The national Club for Growth has released its scorecard of US Senators and Representatives for 2008.

The ratings are based on a comprehensive examination of votes in the House and Senate pertaining to key economic issues, including taxes, wasteful spending, entitlement reform, free trade, and regulation. Each lawmaker is given an economic growth score ranging from 0 to 100, with a score of 100 indicating the highest support for pro-growth policies.

Senators and Representatives scoring 90 or above were recognized as Defenders of Economic Freedom

Here's how Kentucky's representatives fared:

Legislator District Rank Score
Senators
Bunning KY 6 93%
McConnell KY 25 67%
Representatives
G. Davis 4 68 82%
H. Rogers 5 100 75%
Whitfield 1 123 70%
R. Lewis 2 (retired) 138 64%
Chandler 6 230 12%
Yarmuth 3 435 0%

There are a few things worth mentioning about the scorecard.

1) Congratulations to Jim Bunning being ranked as a Defender of Economic Freedom

2) This may be Hal Rogers best score ever. Whitfield, Lewis, and Chandler's constituents should be very disappointed that their representatives ranked below him.

3) Yarmuth's score of ZERO is incredible. Even if you generally disagree with the Club's work -- that there is inherent good in greater economic freedom -- disagreeing on every single vote scored is a special radicalism. The explanations of the votes scored are here (and here for the Senate). See if you're as amazed as we are that he could be on the opposite side of every single one of these.

The 2009 Session Was a Disaster, Let's Not Have Another

On April 4, 2009, the Courier-Journal published the following editorial by Executive Director Andy Hightower:

Let's Not Waste Our Time with a Special Session

The 2009 regular session of Kentucky's General Assembly has just ended, and Kentucky's political leaders can't stop praising themselves. Indeed, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a press release:

"This has been a highly productive time for all of Kentucky, from resolving the current budget crisis to enacting a multi-billion dollar road plan and greatly improving school testing."

That statement simply repeated an earlier sentiment as expressed jointly by speaker Stumbo, Governor Steve Beshear and Senate President David Williams:

"This session began with a commitment to work together to address the significant issues confronting the commonwealth. Today, we are continuing to honor that commitment and move forward in a way that will create jobs and economic opportunities for more Kentuckians."

In fact they have done nothing of the sort. The "significant issues facing the commonwealth" have been pushed aside or worsened. "Commitments" made to Kentuckians have been broken, and Kentucky's environment for "jobs and economic opportunities" has been made more difficult.

Entering the session, the most significant issues facing the commonwealth were a projected $456 million budget shortfall and a $30 billion liability overhanging the state pension system.

Responding to the projected shortfall, the legislature rushed tax increases (HB 144) into law. Instead of setting priorities and tightening budgets, they opted for new taxes and to spend every dollar of the state's "rainy day" fund twice over. It seems contradictory that these tax hikes were critical and that they do nothing to address budget needs, but that's exactly what Speaker Stumbo is telling us. He says they'll be back in a special session and they "will be voting on something, either more budget cuts or more revenue measures." These tax hikes were passed simply to avoid real budget decisions for another month.

The last special session has its own bad record of inaction: commitments made last June in HB 1 are already undone. HB 1 did not address the sustainability of the state pension system, but committed to responsibility fund the $30 billion obligation. The legislature has already broken that commitment, voting to borrow $50 million from the system (HB 143) and to delay the payments they promised to make (HB 117).

Now, Speaker Stumbo is discussing going even further: "in these economic times everything may well be on the table and it may well be that we cannot meet those payments and function as state government."

How can any of this be considered honoring commitments or creating better environment for jobs and economic opportunity?

The only consideration given to job creation this session was a Christmas-tree bill of dozens of tax breaks for well-connected industries (HB 229) that failed. Instead, the General Assembly acted to preemptively tax technologies that don't even exist here (HB 236), inviting them to stay out of Kentucky. They passed a new tax on digital services (HB 347) that will drive entrepreneurs across our border, a tax that even Governor Paterson wouldn't pass in New York.

The 2009 legislative session should be characterized as nothing less than a disaster. The cooperation they are so proud of is nothing less than a mutual agreement to abscond without action or responsibility.

Kentucky is burdened by leadership that is more serious about the next election than addressing tough problems. As the rhetoric rises and the chimes sound for the next wasteful special session, remember this dismal record and tell your legislators: "No thanks!"

April 23, 2009

Half Missing the Point on Pensions

Recently, Stephanie Steitzer of the Courier-Journal covered Kentucky's state pension system. David Adams at the Bluegrass Institute pointed out:

A story in Tuesday's paper about how legislative leaders are considering more inconsequential tweaks to the system included this gem of a quote from actuary Patrick Welsh:

"If they cut those benefits even more, they further delude themselves (into thinking) they were doing something meaningful. The only way they can do something meaningful is to put money (to cover the underfunding) in there.

"If you never hired another new employee ... you wouldn't be any better off. The only thing they can do is fund it. That's it."

There is no clearer way to frame the issue. Decades of underfunding have created a more than $30 billion shortfall in the system.

This is an essential point, but it is mostly tangential to the article. The article largely concentrates on the information in this chart: that Kentucky's state (employer) contribution is low compared to surrounding states. It concludes from this analysis that the only issue to address is greater funding, because there is little of the employer contribution to cut.

As Welsh puts it in the first part of his quote:

"The state's cost is so little, and there is so little potential to save," Welsh said. "If they cut those benefits even more, they further delude themselves (into thinking) they were doing something meaningful."

That since the state's employer contribution is so little, there are few savings to be found by reforming the system.

This idea is a bit ridiculous. Even though some portion of the contribution is defined as the state's employer contribution and some portion is defined as the employee contribution, the entirety of that total is paid by the state from taxes paid by the Kentucky taxpayer.

It is true that the system is not adequately funded historically, but Welsh and the article ignore the question of whether the obligation is increasing at a rate that is sustainable. The current liability needs adequate funding but that's only half the equation. The growth of that liability needs to be at a rate Kentucky taxpayers can afford, and that will require changing the benefit.

If Welsh were correct that "The only way they can do something meaningful is to put money (to cover the underfunding) in there," then the taxpayers of Kentucky are going to be on the hook for a liability that will only increase from the current $30 billion figure.

"If they cut those benefits even more, they further delude themselves (into thinking) they were doing something meaningful."

Legislators committed to adequate funding in the 2008 special session. Calling that bill "reform" was a delusion. (We all know how that turned out.)

Addressing the issue requires addressing future benefits not just more money from taxpayers.

Obama's Most Glaring Hypocrisy Yet

Remember back when President Obama dismissed the ridiculous pork in the stimulus package saying that

"If you add all that stuff up, it accounts from less than 1 percent of the overall package."

He dismissed our concerns, saying that 1% wasn't a significant sum in the overall scheme of things.

Well, if he thought that was insignificant...

Afterward, the president went before the cameras to say he has ordered his Cabinet secretaries to cut $100 million from their budgets as a sign of solidarity with a nation that has had to take "extraordinary steps in order to shore up our financial system."

Critics jumped on Obama's $100 million cost-cutting plan as being too puny. "The administration's new talk of trimming a meager .0025 percent from the $4 trillion federal budget just doesn't square with its reckless record on borrowing and spending," said House Minority Leader John Boehner.

Not only is it funny that he's suddenly decided that less than 1% of the budget is worth trifling about, he's also planning on sending the government to Costco. It's worth reading the whole article.

April 22, 2009

Afternoon Notes: Bunning and Mongiardo, LEXTRAN and Paducah Tea Party Pictures

Much is being written about US Senate 1st Quarter fundraising numbers. We pointed out who McConnell has and has not given to. KyWordSmith points out 10% of Bunning's funds are untouchable for a year. PageOneKentucky points out even more of Mongiardo's funds fall into that category.

Here's a LEXTRAN headline that needs no comment here. We encourage KyCFGers to attend and follow the headline's directions:

LexTran seeks public input for future services - LexTran is assessing Lexington's future mass transportation needs and wants your opinion.

Some pictures from the Paducah Tea Party, at which Executive Director Andy Hightower spoke, can be found here.

Beshear Failing to Make Promised Spending Cuts, Plans on Calling Special Session

In our piece yesterday on the budget, we asked if Kentucky could end June with a budget surplus.

We answered yes, if current revenue trends are sustained. We forgot to mention that it is also contingent on Governor Beshear actually tightening the budget as he promised to do in December.

It seems that most are realizing the potential for a better budget picture with flat receipts through the first three quarters of the fiscal year. The Courier-Journal reports on the abatement of rhetoric calling for a special session since the revenue picture is rosier. But the article buries some significant information at the end from State Budget Director Mary Lassiter ("She"):

She said federal stimulus funds and some cuts made to balance the budget this year will help in balancing the budget next year. But next year, the state will not be able to tap its Rainy Day Fund to ease the pain, because that fund was exhausted in addressing this year's shortfall.

Beshear has said that in the week of May 4, after he gets a quarterly revenue outlook from his budget office and knows April's revenue totals, he may ask for an official forecast of next year's revenue from a team of experts that makes such predictions. That will produce the first official forecast of the shortfall for 2009-10.

Let's take this in two parts:

1) The Rainy Day fund was exhausted in addressing this year's shortfall.

As we pointed out yesterday, the Governor was given the authority to used the Rainy Day Fund this year. We also pointed out that it would be unnecessary to spend any of it with current revenue projections, the new alcohol tax and higher cigarette taxes, and Beshear's proposed $147 million in cuts. In fact, that scenario would lead to an $8 million surplus in FY2009.

If the $191 million in the rainy day fund has already been spent it means some combination of three things:

  • that Kentucky's natural disasters cost $191 million (probably does explain some spending, but closer to $20 million than $200 million)
  • that Governor Beshear has spent $191 million outside of the budget (not likely a significant explanation, probably illegal)
  • that the Governor actually hasn't made any cuts and is simply spending every dollar he can find (AH-HA!)

So what's Governor Beshear's next step? Here's the second point from the C-J passage.

2) In the week of May 4, he will provide an analysis of April receipts and find a new, significant shortfall for FY 2010 and call a special session.

How can we be sure of this? This answer is found in both our post yesterday and in the C-J article.

Both mention that last year, April and May receipts were incredibly volatile, with April 2008 receipts increasing 36% over April 2007, but a 21% decrease in May receipts versus 2007. With such a spike last April, receipts are almost determined to be down this April, just as they are almost determined to be up in May.

Governor Beshear says he's going to make his determination in early May, based only on the April numbers that we all know should be down, instead of waiting until late May when we'll have a better idea of how those volatile months shape up. That will allow him to paint the economy as weak, and completely ignore the fact that he has completely neglected to reduce spending in any significant way.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition notes in their first blog post the dangers of allowing better budget numbers to relax efforts to reduce spending. What they fail to mention is that, in Kentucky, there is never any serious effort to reduce spending in any budget times, only occasional rhetoric.

April 21, 2009

Upcoming Events: School Choice, Rand Paul, Liberty Rallies

For your information, some upcoming events of note that have been sent our way:

Thursday, April 23rd
Time: 6:30pm
Place: The Inn on Broadway, Lexington
What: A discussion about the need for school choice in Kentucky

Thursday, April 30th
Time: 7:00pm
Place: Memorial Hall, University of Kentucky, Lexington
What: Dr. Rand Paul to speak on liberty, and how to achieve it in an era of big government. The speaking engagement is free, and open for the general public.

Saturday, May 23rd
Place: Frankfort
What: Freedom Rally

Saturday, July 4th
Place: Lexington Courthouse
What: Freedom Rally

Will Kentucky Reach July with a Budget Surplus?

If revenues continue at their current pace, we should.

Since the fiscal year began in July we have been following the state's monthly revenue reports and pointing out the increasing unlikelihood that the state's worst-case-scenario budget projection of a $456 million shortfall would be met.

October, November 1 2, December 1 2, January, February, March

March revenue numbers are now in, and revenues versus last year for the month and for the year are even. This means that, the entire $265 million projected decrease versus 2008 will have to be realized in the last quarter of the fiscal year. As State Budget Director Mary Lassiter notes:

To meet the revenue estimate, receipts would need to decline 9.6 percent over the last three months of the fiscal year.

Still, it is difficult to predict exactly what the final revenue outcome will be. We wrote last month:

In 2008, March through June were quite volatile year-on-year, with a 5% decrease in March, a 36% increase in April followed by a 21% decrease in May.

Additionally, the Cigarette and Alcohol tax hikes kicked in this month. These tax hikes were estimated to result in an additional $52 million in revenue this year.

On the spending side of the ledger, remember that the Governor committed to $147 million in reduced spending.

Additionally, HB 143 allows the Governor to spend $209 million of the rainy day fund and borrow $50 million from the state retirement system (both bad ideas).

So where does all of this leave the state as we enter the last quarter of FY 2009?

First, let's use the current revenue trend of a flat revenue baseline versus 2008. This would represent a shortfall of $191 million versus the revenue estimate in the biennial budget (RS08 HB 406).

Let's add to that baseline the additional $52 million from the tax increases and say that the Governor honors his proposal from December to reduce spending by $147 million.

That leaves the state with an $8 million surplus!

As we noted above, receipts from the next couple of months will be volatile. But even with the worst-case scenario (a $265 million decrease over the next three months), the legislature has given the governor $259 million of (irresponsible) extra authority.

While we can think of some good issues for a special session, the commonwealth's fiscal situation is not one of them.

McConnell Weighs in Against Toomey, Bunning, Taxpayers

With all the Tea Partying, we've neglected to mention on this blog some big news:

The President of the national Club for Growth, Pat Toomey, resigned his position in preparation to primary RINO Senator Arlen Spector of Pensylvania.

Former Indiana Congressman Chris Chocola has been named his replacement, and you can read more about him here.

Today's big news is that Kentucky's Senator McConnell has already picked sides. The Club for Growth reports:

According to CQ Moneyline, the following Senators have donated money to Arlen Specter's campaign:

Mitch McConnell
John Cornyn
Lamar Alexander
Orrin Hatch

It may be expected that the GOP Senate Leader would donate to incumbent GOP colleagues up for reelection. But McConnell was not listed as a donor in Jim Bunning's recent report, suggesting a different explanation may be needed:

Is McConnell actively trying to keep fiscal conservatives out of the GOP?

April 20, 2009

Enlightened Headline from AG Conway

We thought for a moment AG Jack Conway was getting a clue about the fraudulent stimulus package when we read this healine on a recent news release:

Attorney General Conway and Cabinet for Health & Family Services Issue Fraud Alert for One-Time Economic Stimulus Payment

but it's not about what we thought.

April 18, 2009

TOMORROW -- Bluegrass Tax Liberation Day

On Saturday afternoon, interested groups and individuals from around Kentucky will gather at Applebee's Park in Lexington for Bluegrass Tax Liberation Day.

Bluegrass Tax Liberation Day is designed to be an educational festival to teach citizens about the founding ideas of America and liberty with a focus on protesting the stimulus plan, tax increases and an ever expanding government.

It's like a Fair with games and contests, like guess the weight of the printed federal register and using 'The Pod', (the tennis ball canon from Newton's Attic) to shoot down pork. Games, face painting and music will make for an exciting day in celebration of the freedoms of this country.

Come visit the Kentucky Club for Growth booth and play "Lexington Golf", where the city pays you $8.50 for every round. It is a putting game to draw the public's attention to the fact that the city of Lexington subsidizes its public golf courses over $1.2 million a year (while cutting over 50 police and firefighters in the meantime).

We look forward to seeing you there!

More Information.

April 16, 2009

Kentucky Tea Party News Roundup

Statewide

Criticism: Glory, Glory Hallelujah - LEO's Fat Lip

Bowling Green

Tea party protest draws larger crowd than expected - College Heights Herald
Bowling Green Tea Party Draws Hundreds - WBKO

Burlington

'Tea partiers' land in Burlington - NKY.com
Cincinnati and Burlington photos - Cincinnati.com

Danville

Video - Advocate-Messenger

Elizabethtown

E'town Tea Party protests spending - News-Enterprise

Flatwoods

Crowd gathers in Flatwoods for Tea Party - The Daily Independent

Frankfort

Tax Day Tea Party in Frankfort one of many across United States - Commonwealth Journal
Tax deadline brings out thousands of protesters - Richmond Register
Stirred up about taxes - Richmond Register

Henderson

100 take part in local tax protest - The Gleaner

Lexington and Nicholasville

Lexington, Nicholasville among hundreds of cities with 'tea parties' - Herald-Leader
Lexington photos - Herald-Leader

London

'Taxed Enough Already' - The Times Tribune
Kentucky Groups Join 'Tea Party' Spending Protest - WKYT

Louisville

Hundreds protest in city - Courier-Journal
photos - Courier-Journal
Tea'd off - LEO Weekly
video - WAVE3

Paducah

photo - Paducah Sun
Locals Join National Protest Against The Current Tax System - WPSD
Video - WPSD
Video 2 - WPSD

Somerset

'Tea'ed Off - Commonwealth Journal

April 14, 2009

How Kentucky's Federal Delegation Ranks

On the eve of the Tea Parties, the National Taxpayer's Union has their 2008 Congressional Grades out. Only one Kentucky legislator earned an "A".

That's right, Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

Here are all of the scores and grades for 2008.

Senator Jim Bunning
A
79%

Rep. Geoff Davis (4th Dist.)
B
70%

Rep. Ed Whitfield (1st Dist.)
B-
61%

Rep. Hal Rogers (5th Dist.)
B-
60%

Rep. Ron Lewis (retired)
C+
59%

Senator Mitch McConnell
B-
55%

Rep. Ben Chandler (6th Dist.)
F
15%

Rep. John Yarmuth (3rd Dist.)
F
13%

Hat Tip: Club for Growth

Tea Party Time Again! Find Your Local Rally!

IT IS AGAIN TIME TO ACT!

The federal stimulus, spending hundreds of billions of dollars we don't have; sending billions to states that are raising taxes anyway; bailouts going to companies that should be restructured instead of sustained; 9,000 earmarks being called 'last year's news'; proposals to tax energy until it's no longer affordable, to dispense with the secret ballot for union elections, to make the government the director of all health care, to double welfare spending...

It is an assault on the liberty that is very foundation of our national success, and it's time to say so.

Below is a list of over 18 Tea Parties going on in Kentucky Wednesday, and we're having a big freedom celebration on Saturday in Lexington at Applebee's Park.

Don't be content with having discussing our frustration among ourselves. We need to show that conservatives are still here and willing to engage.

Check out the places and times below and come out to Lexington Saturday for Bluegrass Tax Liberation Day

On Wednesday, if you're in Paduach, you can come out to find the Kentucky Club for Growth booth.

Saturday, stop by the Kentucky Club for Growth Booth at Applebee's Park to play Lexington Golf, where the city pays you to play.

WE ARE ORGANIZING SO YOU CAN MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD. We must remind everyone that national success follows from individual success, not government direction.

JOIN US! Bring signs, teabags, whatever your inspiration.

We look forward to seeing you there!

April 13, 2009

Kentucky Tax Day Tea Parties April 15 UPDATE: 18 Rallies in Kentucky

City: Bowling Green
Date: Wednesday April 15, 2009
Time: 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: We will congregate on Fountain Square (455 E. Main St.) and then head to the Justice Center
Contact: taxdayteaparty@gmail.com
Facebook

City: Burlington
When: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - ?
Location: Burlington Court House
Contact: Email

City: Corbin
When: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - ??
Location: London Courthouse

City: Danville
When: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - ??
Location: Court House Lawn
Contact: Email

City: Elizabethtown
When: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 4:00pm - 6:30 pm
Location: Downtown Public Square
Contact: hardincoteaparty@gmail.com
Webpage: http://www.hardincoteaparty.com/home

City: Flatwoods
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm
Location: Flatwoods City Park
Contact: Email

City: Frankfort
Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: The Capitol steps, Capital Avenue
Contact: frankforttaxdayteaparty@gmail.com
Website: http://frankforttaxdayteaparty.wordpress.com
Facebook

City: Henderson
Date: Wednesday, April 15 2009
Time: 12:00pm - dark
Location: Henderson Courthouse, 20 North Main Street
Contact: Email
Webpage: http://www.cardwellent.com/
Facebook

City: Lexington
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: Lexington-Fayette Courthouse (Courthouse Plaza)
Contact: Email

City: London
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - ??
Location: London Courthouse
Contact: Email

City: Louisville
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 11:00am - 1:00pm
Location: Jefferson Square, 6th and Jefferson Street
Email: LouisvilleTeaParty@gmail.com
Website: http://www.louisvilletaxdayteaparty.webs.com/
Facebook

City: Madisonville
Date: Wednesday April 15th, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: The corner of Main St. and W. Arch St. next to City Hall

City: Nicholasville
Date: Wednesday April 15th, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Location: Jessamine County Courthouse
Contact: info@nicholasvilleteaparty.com

City: Owensboro
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm
Location: Owensboro City Hall
Contact: Email

City: Owensboro
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 5:30pm - 6:00pm
Location: McConnell Plaza at the Covered Pavilion, West 1st and St. Elizabeth
Email: owensborotaxday@bellsouth.net

City: Paducah
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Location: River Front
Contact:
Webpage: West Kentucky Star

City: Somerset
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 11:00am - 1:00pm
Location: Town Spuare
Contact: Email

City: Richmond
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: Madison County Courthouse

April 9, 2009

Kentucky Tea Parties -- Sat., April 11

City: Owensboro
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Time:
Location: Daughters of the American Revolution Room in the Owensboro Area Museum of Science and History
Contact: sphdysinger(at)aol(dot)com

City: Richmond
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Time: 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: In front of Wallingford Broadcasting, 128 Big Hill Avenue
Email: claypups2(at)yahoo(dot)com
Website: http://bluegrasspolicy-blog.blogspot.com/2009/04/f.html

Kentucky Tea Parties

We are at an incredible moment in this country of people who are frustrated with our elected leadership coming out to rally in a new Tea Party movement.

We hosted a rally in Lexington on March 21st, and over 1200 people showed up to say we're tired of our officials proclaiming a "New Era of Responsibility" then proceeding to spend trillions we don't have on programs we don't need to create a system that punishes the successful "because they can afford it."

This week, Kentucky prepares for rallies in over a dozen cities this Saturday, on Tax Day, and ending with the Bluegrass Liberty Fair in Lexington on April 18th.

We've compiled all of the rallies we're aware of, and we'll post them next.

Lend your voice!

Be a part of the movement!

Don't make excuses, show you care about these issues and about the direction we are headed. Mark your calendar for the 15th and find a rally nearby to participate in. Find two!

Here are four websites with some of the information you may want to check for updates as the day approaches:

Here are some Tea Party resources:

Tea Party Tools (from American Solutions)

101 Tea Party Signs

April 7, 2009

Rick Rand's Ready to Spend Your Money

Representative Rick Rand (D-Trimble, 2008 Rank #71) has only been chairman of the House budget committee for three months, but he's already taken the shape of his predecessor. Like Moberly before him, he's determined that the role of the House A&R chairman is to constantly seek and spend more money from Kentucky's taxpayers.

"The prospects for our next budget cycles are not rosy," Rand said. "We want to make sure that we are prepared to make any decisions that we may have to make."

The prospects for the next budget cycles?

The next budget cycle doesn't even start until 2010. 'Cycles' is a forecast through 2014. He's predicting he will want to spend more than the state has in revenue for the next five years!

April 6, 2009

A Conspiracy of Smiles

The AP wrote up an analysis of the recently concluded session of the General Assembly that attempted to explain why Governor Beshear, Speaker Stumbo and Senate President Williams worked in concert to happily spend and raise taxes.

Dea Riley chalks it up to political calculation:

"People are completely exhausted and annoyed by the partisanship," independent Kentucky political consultant Dea Riley said. "If you come out and you're blatantly partisan, it serves to hurt you."

So the drastic change in the political atmosphere, Riley contends, may have more to do with what's in the best interest of Beshear, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President David Williams, all three of whom must answer to an electorate that's soured on the posturing that had become so commonplace.

Western Kentucky University faculty Scott Lasley agreed:

Western Kentucky University political scientist Scott Lasley said he was struck by the cooperation.

"In politics, you're always trying to figure out people's strategies and to some extent what their motives are," Lasley said. "If you look at this session, I'm not sure it's that obvious."

Beshear said he and lawmakers "ignored labels like Democrat and Republican" for the sake of the state. "We set aside our differences because, simply put, it was the right thing to do."

Riley said indeed it was the right thing to do - for political leaders with ambitions to be elected to statewide offices.

They may be right about the motivation: that these pols are motivated to cooperate because the electorate values "bipartisanship", but we think they miss the point.

We expect they are cooperating because they realize that Kentucky has few in the media who are willing to question a unified message from Democrats, especially when the message is unchallenged by the top-ranking Republican.

The usually investigative Tom Loftus regurgitates:

Session was marked by achievements, cooperation

The generally skeptical Ronnie Ellis reinforces:

Lawmakers are calling it the most productive and successful short session ever. They always say they've succeeded, but this time they probably mean it. And the public probably agrees, approving of the more orderly and cooperative atmosphere.

...

So who won and who lost politically? Obviously, Richards lost. At first glance, however, there didn't seem to be any other big losers.

But the lack of partisanship is actually a loss of discussion. A loss of dialogue. And the result is that, with the exception of some real progress in education reform, the state was made considerably worse off.

The real motivation for everyone being on the same page is so that they can write the story themselves. As you can see above, it's a strategy that works.

If you're looking for the real story, you can find it here at the Kentucky Club for Growth.

April 3, 2009

If Wishes Were Horses, Public Defenders Would Ride

Public defenders say they're not going to have the funding necessary to fund operations through the end of the year, (incidentally, so do the prosecutors) and they're probably right. Each office is actually funded less than the office of our part-time legislature.

The general assembly advanced a bill that pretended to fund these offices, but it failed to pass into law.

No matter, says former Attorney General and current Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo.

A representative for Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the Governor Steve Beshear can fund the public defenders without the legislature's approval.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell tells the Governor where to find the money:

O'Connell believes if the governor can't find the money in the budget, he should look at the state's rainy day fund.

The problem with the bill and the problem with O'Connell's wish is that there is no money in the "Rainy Day Fund":

  • When the budget passed, the Budget Reserve Trust Fund contained $214 million.
  • The budget spends $191 million of the rainy day fund.
  • HB 143 spends $219 million of the rainy day fund.

The legislature has spent $200 million more out of the rainy day fund than is in the rainy day fund.

One authority the Governor does not have is the power to create money out of thin air

Ready to Do More Damage

Let's recap a brief history of the current budget.

The 2009-2010 budget was passed in the 2008 regular session of the General Assembly. It contained:

  • Record debt of over $1 billion.
  • The assumption of a 0.7% decrease in resources but a 0.9% increase in spending.
  • 90% of the Budget Reserve Trust Fund (the "Rainy Day" fund) was spent.
  • No provisions to deal with the $30 billion unfunded liability of the state pension system.

Dueling bills in the House and Senate to address the pension liability stalled and rumors of a special session to deal with the issue began.

Governor Beshear called the pension special session in June, resulting in little reform of the system for future employees but a commitment to adequately fund the system in the future.

Talk immediately began about how the projection of a 0.7% decrease in resources was too rosy, and a shortfall of 4.7% was discussed. Leaders spoke of the need to cut budgets as a first priority.

In the 2009 session:

  • Tax increases were rushed through as the session's top priority.
  • Bills unraveled the promises of the previous special session, delaying the payments they had promised to make and borrowing even more money from the pension system.
  • The Budget Reserve Trust Fund was authorized to be spent again in its entirety, creating an automatic $200 million deficit for 2010.
  • More bonds were authorized, raising the record debt levels.

Now, they want to come back in another special session.

They just raised taxes, but they say they'll need to raise more taxes.

They just voted to delay payments into the pension system, but they say they will delay more payments.

Some claim gambling is some magic elixir to solve the budget crunch and save all the horses, but Indiana's racinos are begging for a bailout.

Unless real economic growth is on the agenda, there is no good that can come out of a special session in 2009.

April 2, 2009

What One Trillion Dollars Looks Like

We like graphics.

From Gizmodo via ATR

This is what one trillion dollars looks like in $100 bills. The red spot on the left is a person.

April 1, 2009

Bold Predictions In Lexington

So, the University of Kentucky has a new basketball coach who has aligned the stars and created world peace.

In his press conference today, he made a bold proclamation, not just about the basketball program he will run, but about the destiny of the state. This is not a word-for-word quote, but it went something like this:

Kentucky is an amazing place where former basketball players like Jeff Shepard do commercials and Richie Farmer is like Secretary of Agriculture or something and is going to be Governor.

Calipari has been involved in politics donating to and hosting fundraisers for lots of Tennessee pols from Al Gore to Fred Thompson. Perhaps this is more than a prediction...

Iowa Tax Protest Cleared Out By House Speaker

As 500+ Iowans showed up to protest tax hikes in the Iowa House of Representatives, the Iowa Speaker of the House ordered the Iowa State Police to clear them out.

House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, cleared the crowd at about 8:30 p.m. The decision brought about loud protests as the crowd was escorted from the chambers by Iowa State Patrol officers.

"This is the most atrocious thing I've seen in the history of the 15 years I've been a lobbyist. Pat Murphy has acted like a jack-booted Nazi," said Ed Failor Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief, a conservative taxpayers' rights group from Muscatine with 50,000 members.

Failor Jr. was escorted from the House chambers after Murphy overheard him speak with the media.

We can't stop demonstrating our frustration with the decisions of our elected leaders.

There are plenty of anti-tax, pro freedom rallies events coming up. We'll put up a list later, but be certain not to miss Bluegrass Tax Liberation Day at Applebees Park in Lexington. April 18th at 11AM-2PM.

Dueling Polls on Toomey-Specter Pennsylvania Matchup

National Club for Growth President, Pat Toomey, has not officially entered the 2010 election for US Senate in Pennsylvania, saying only:

As this disastrous recession worsens, I have become increasingly concerned about the future of our state and national economy," Toomey said in a statement Monday. "Unfortunately, the recent extraordinary response of the federal government - more corporate bailouts, unprecedented spending and debt, higher taxes - is likely to make things worse. I think we are on a dangerously wrong path. Pennsylvanians want a US Senator focused on real and sustainable job creation that gets our economy growing again. That is why I am considering becoming a candidate for the US Senate.

A Quinnipac poll released on the 25th showed Toomey with a 41-27 lead in a prospective primary matchup, but apparently a second poll shows a more divided primary electorate. All polls show great vulnerability for Senator Specter.

Quality Sites

Cato Institute
National Club for Growth

Blogs

AFP Blog
Alarming News
American Spectator
Ankle Biting Pundits
Betsy's Page
Boudreaux's Blog
Business & Media Institute
Cafe Hayek
Callaxy.net
Cato @ Liberty
CNBC's Squawk Blog
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:

* 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.