Kentucky Club for Growth
fighting and winning for economic freedom

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July 30, 2009

Rep. Owens' Funny Idea of Economic Development

Rep. Darryl Owens (2008 rank: #86) has a funny idea of what it takes to improve the economy. From the article mentioned below about wasting liberals' money:

Owens mentioned a $2.2 million project in Louisville for sidewalks. He said that money helped 20 individual small businesses.

Good thing we're paying $100 million a day in interest on the national debt for economic development like that! Icky sidewalks were the one thing standing in between the success and failure of those small businesses. When's the last time you were out running errands and were about to patronize a shop until you looked at the sidewalk in front of it and decided it might be too dangerous for you to go that way? Yesterday? This morning?

Now, if you gave each of those small businesses a $110,000 tax break, each could hire, say, 2.5 new employees. That would create jobs and have the same direct impact on the budget. Indirectly, it would have considerably less impact on the budget because it would create 50 new taxpayers.

Rep. Owens' love of concrete ribbons must just be blinding.

Headlines In the Herald-Leader About Wasted Liberal Money

One: New jobless claims rise more than expected

Two: Obama met by protests, fears in Va.

Punchline: Ads target McConnell for opposing stimulus

July 29, 2009

Vote for Kentucky Comrade of the Month for June

It's taken us a while to work out the technical details, and there are still a few bugs to fix, but it's finally time to vote for the inaugural Comrade of the Month for the month of June!

The Comrade of the Month is an award to recognize those who are making a special effort to set up barriers to economic freedom in the Commonwealth.

This Month's Nominees

Kentucky Association of Counties and
Kentucky League of Cities

$300,000 in salary, another $300,000 in travel, reimbursed dinners at the restaurants they own plus a BMW SUV, and that's just what you're paid to run KLC. KACo and KLC additionally spend at strip clubs, country clubs and pretends to be Santa at Christmas. All with your tax dollars.

Kentucky House Democrat Leadership
Not only did they push the bad bills that passed the legislature like giving tax dollars to subsidize film producers, they passed legislation to bond $1.34 billion in new spending. This would cost KY taxpayers a mere $140 million annually for at least 20 years. Granted, it was attached to a casino bill they thought would generate $200 million for five years, but what about the other 15 years? Over $1.5 billion in deficit spending to find 51 votes for a piece of legislation unable to stand on its own merits.

Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth
They've already won this award from the national Club for their vote in favor of more expensive electricity for Kentuckians, but they were popular nominees here as well.

Tom Holocher, Mayor of Ft. Mitchell
In June, Mayor Holocher proposed a budget that spent $120,000 on recreation including trips to skydiving jump zone. He offered no spending cuts while simultaneously planning a tax increase. To top it off, he proposed asking the General Assembly for authority to impose a restaurant and sales tax state-wide through the Kentucky League of Cities (see nominee #1).


Also, don't forget to send us your nominees for July and August!

July 28, 2009

Reaction to Bunning's Retirement Announcement

As Senator Bunning announced that he would not seek reelection, the various declared and undeclared candidates reacted.

Gov. Lt. Dan Mongiardo sounds defensive:

from the Rural Democrat via KYWordSmith:

"Our campaign's never been about Jim Bunning; it's about fighting for affordable healthcare, affordable energy, and good jobs for Kentucky's hard-working families. Today's announcement does not change that," U.S. Senate Candidate Dr. Daniel Mongiardo said in response to Bunning's announcement today.

AG Jack Conway said:

from WHAS11 via KYWordsmith:

"Jim Bunning should be thanked for his many years of service in the public arena. I wish him and his family well in the next chapter of their lives. As for the political race in 2010, I look forward to facing whomever the Republican nominee will be next fall. "

But then he sent out an email that suggested that he hated being in the race:

On July 21, 2009, Elizabeth and I celebrated the birth of our daughter, Eva Louise Conway. We are thrilled beyond words and deeply appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Despite our new personal joy, the 2010 Senate race continues to develop.

On the Republican side, the President of all Secretaries of State Trey Grayson said:

from Bluegrass Politics:

Grayson, 37, said Monday he soon will "transition my exploratory committee to an official campaign committee, but today it is appropriate that we honor the exceptional career of Senator Jim Bunning and take time to thank him for his extraordinary service to our state and nation."

Dr. Rand Paul said:

from Bluegrass Politics:

Paul's campaign manager, David Adams, said the campaign "has nothing but good things to say about Bunning, especially his votes on bailouts." Paul will continue to explore the possibility of entering the race, Adams said.

Cathy Bailey left the door open:

from the Courier-Journal:

Republican Cathy Bailey, a former U.S. ambassador to Latvia, said Monday she is still considering the race.

"Republicans must now look to keeping this seat in very conservative hands," she said.

July 27, 2009

Bunning Announces Retirement

Senator Jim Bunning has announced that he won't run for reelection.

Jim Bunning's tenure has been a great service to the Kentucky taxpayer, scoring above 80 in each of the four years the Club for Growth has produced a scorecard.

Now the candidacies of Trey Grayson and Rand Paul can materialize.

Was Cathy Bailey seriously contemplating entering the race, or was her name floating around simply intended as additional pressure for Bunning to drop out? Time will tell...

CFGers in Ft. Mitchell Condemn KLC, Stand Up to Apologist Mayor

Two Kentucky Club for Growth members on the Ft. Mitchell City Council -- Chris Wiest and Will Terwort -- are some of the few in Kentucky who are not only condemning the actions of KACo and the KLC but doing something about it:

A majority of Fort Mitchell City Council is upset that a Kentucky League of Cities executive spent taxpayer dollars at a Las Vegas strip club.

That $80 charge on a Kentucky League of Cities' credit card in 2006 and more recent questionable expenditures by the league's staff prompted Fort Mitchell City Council to adopt a resolution last week calling for more accountability in the league's spending practices.

The resolution calls for transparency in the KLC's expenditures that the KLC comply with any recommendations from a forthcoming state audit. Here's what Wiest and Terwort had to say about the issue:

"I'm disgusted, both by the expenditure of public funds at a strip club, as well as the blatant attempt at making an excuse for the expenditure by the KLC officials who were behind it," said Fort Mitchell Councilman Chris Wiest. "They made the statement in the paper, 'We didn't know that we were going into a strip club,' when you see a picture in the paper with giant 'nude' signs next to the front door. Do they think that we're stupid?"

Terwort said: "Fort Mitchell individuals and business work too hard for their money to see it used by an organization at a strip club."

The Ft. Mitchell mayor, however, finds strip club adventures on the taxpayer's dime as more of a grey area:

But Holocher, who serves on the Kentucky League of Cities' board of directors, urged council not to forget that the league "still does a tremendous amount of good work for (cities)."

"I'm not trying to condone the expenditure at the strip club," Holocher said..."But I think you have to step back a little bit and say, 'Maybe they've made some mistakes but let them try to get over the mistakes.'

A gold star to the council for walking the walk...

One of the Most Ridiculous Media Concepts Ever

From the NYTimes: Supposedly there are two brands of Republicans, and they are range from left-of-center to center.

Some writer named Harwood thinks Republicans can either chose Schwarzenegger's liberal compromises with his liberal legislature, or Mitch McConnell's big-spending, big-pork centrism.

Mr. Harwood, Pennslyvania is not too far away. You should check out that Senate race.

Spending Cuts? Certainly You Mean After You Increase OUR Budget?

So say health advocates who are seemingly oblivious to budget reductions in the rest of the state.

When Governor Beshear put forward a plan to address the 2010 budget, he said he addressed a shortfall of almost $400 million by freeing up general fund dollars from Medicaid that were being replaced by federal spendulus funds. By doing this, he was able to keep health spending constant while only reducing overall spending by $200 million. The end result was no proposed tax increase, no cuts in Medicaid, and a balanced budget.

This weekend, health advocates complained about this plan, saying they expected spending increases while the rest of the government was cut. Seriously:

"They had the perfect opportunity to take that money and shore up a lot of family-support programs that have been cut and cut and now are going to be cut again,'' said Cathy Allgood Murphy, an advocate with AARP of Kentucky. "It seems like the children and the elderly of this state are being left in limbo once again."

"I'm just absolutely stunned at the insensitivity," said Jim Kimbrough, chairman of a coalition called ARMS -- Advocates for Reforming Medicaid Services. "In my opinion that money should have gone to programs that are state-funded and serve large numbers of people at low costs in their homes."

Bart Baldwin, president of Children's Alliance, a group of private, mostly non-profit agencies that provide residential centers, foster care and other services for abused and neglected children, said funding for such care already has been slashed and many services eliminated. Shifting the Medicaid money out of the cabinet is "disappointing," he said. "In my opinion, all $383 million should have stayed in the cabinet."

Many of these groups receive public support in various forms. Paging John Cheves...

July 24, 2009

The Races: Senate 18 - News Roundup

For those interested in following developments in the Senate special election on August 25, here are some recent headlines:

Webb chosen for 18th District senate run - John Cannon, Ashland Daily Independent

Without mentioning Williams by name, she said this election was "about restoring democracy in the Kentucky Senate" because it doesn┬╣t now exist.

Instead, all the power lies in the hands of one man and " want to cut him down a bit."

State Senate race a hot contest here - Pat Crowley,

Northern Kentucky labor leader Jim Cole said Tuesday night that union members from Northern Kentucky and other parts of the state will spend time in the district helping Webb.

Jay Blanton, a spokesman for Beshear, said on Tuesday that Beshear will campaign and help raise money for the Democrat in the election.

State senate candidate opens up about past problems - Beth Musgrave, Lexington Herald-Leader

In 1994, Webb's legal license was temporarily suspended for failure to pay dues to the Kentucky Bar Association. It was reinstated in 1996.

In court documents included in the reinstatement order, two private bar association reprimands that are not typically released were included. Webb was privately admonished after a client complained that she didn't communicate well with her clients in coal company litigation. A second reprimand involved missing the deadline for appealing a client's case in 1994.

KY Club for Growth: Drees Tax Plan Bad Idea

From Pat Crowley at

Kenton County Judge-executive Ralph Drees says the U.S. government should raise the federal gas tax to pay for the replacement of the Interstate 75/71 Brent Spence Bridge.

Drees, a Crescent Springs Republican not seeking re-election, said because of the costs of materials and studies, major infrastructure projects are too expensive to be paid for from existing federal and state tax revenues.


"If we need the money to build something ... we have to raise it," Drees said in an interview after the event. "We've had the same gas tax over how many years now?


"The very last thing we need in this economy is more taxes," said Brian Richmond, a Fort Mitchell attorney and president of the Kentucky Club for Growth. "The responsibility for the Brent Spence Bridge belongs to the federal government.

"Why should working families in Kentucky be asked to pay for a bridge that benefits the entire eastern portion of the United States from Michigan to Miami?" Richmond said.

"I completely understand the need to get the bridge built, but we in the Commonwealth should not pay more than our fair share. Let's begin the dialogue about wasted tax dollars on completely useless earmarked projects before we ever start talking about raising another tax."

Drees: Raise gas tax to fund bridge - Pat Crowley,

July 22, 2009

The Races: Senate 18 - Ditty v. Webb

It's official. The 18th district will contest Republican Dr. Jack Ditty and Democrat State Rep. Robin Webb.

Webb, as a representative of 33% of the Senate district's voters should have a significant edge in name ID. The District has voted Republican in recent contests, even supporting McConnell in 2008.

Dr. Ditty will have to earn the recognition and trust of voters in the district in just four weeks, enough to overcome the recognition Robin Webb has earned in ten years serving in the State House.

Dr. Ditty might do well to emphasize Webb's inconsistency: In her service, Webb has been thought to be a moderate to conservative representative. However her voting record of the last two years reveals that she is one of the most liberal spenders in the House.

July 21, 2009

Kentucky's Ridiculous New Taxpayer Giveaway to Hollywood

If you haven't caught on yet, Kentucky passed a law in the special session to GIVE TAXPAYER MONEY AWAY to PEOPLE PRODUCING MOVIES.

We don't use caps often. Ever.

It is warranted. The economy is a mess. We just hiked taxes on everyone.


So we can give Hollywood producers that money.

Here's the Herald-Leader's great culture/entertainment writer, Rich Copley:

The tax credit is expected to cost Kentucky $15 million in its first year and $13.4 million the following year, according to the Legislative Research Commission.

The credit is applied against a film company's corporate income tax, but it's possible for a company to garner credits that are worth more than its tax bill. If that happens, the state must cut a check for the difference.

Also, there's no guarantee that tax revenue from the additional jobs spawned by the tax credit will pay for the program.

In Massachusetts, a recent study found that the state got less than $1 in additional revenue for every $5 it spent on film tax breaks.

The article goes on to attempt to credit the previous Fletcher Administration for laying the groundwork. As a personal aside, the reason Fletcher never passed the package is because he would never agree to making the program a refundable tax credit subsidy. We considered it an unjustifiable use of taxpayer money then, and, in today's economy, we find it unfathomable!

The Kentucky Club for Growth encourages you to write your legislators and ask them why they raised your taxes so they could give that money to Hollywood movie producers!?!

Chandler, Yarmuth Named National "Comrade of the Month"

Along with 217 others who swear (and voted) that we should all pay (at a minimum) $0.50 per day to atone for the sin of having electricity that is too affordable.

Members of the Club for Growth voted to name the supporters of Cap and Tax legislation in the US House the "Comrade of the Month". Both Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth are among the 219 votes in favor. Rumor has it Chandler wouldn't even defend himself to Lexington businesses when they visited Washington recently.

From the CFG:

"Waxman-Markey is the most offensive bill to taxpayers that has passed the House this year," said Club President Chris Chocola. "The federal deficit has tripled in just one year. We bailed out Wall Street; we own General Motors; we passed a $780 billion stimulus only to see unemployment keep climbing; and now Congress wants to soak taxpayers with higher energy costs. When does it end?"

The engineers behind Waxman-Markey want to drive up energy costs so that people use less of it. To that end, the bill imposes massive new taxes, tariffs, and regulations, and it redistributes billions of dollars to finance corporate welfare and special interest projects.

"Cap and trade will only result in more economic pain and higher unemployment. The 219 members who supported this plan truly earned the designation of comrade," added Chocola.

July 20, 2009

State Balances Fictional Budget Shortfall With Fictional Budget Maneuvering

According to the budget office:

The state was in the black for the fiscal year that ended June 30, but only because it received a loan from the Medicaid program, which had additional money from the federal stimulus program.

The state was $55.7 million short in general fund dollars and nearly $37 million short in Road Fund money -- which funds transportation projects.

To balance the general fund shortfall - which funds the bulk of state government - Kentucky used unspent general fund dollars that were allocated to the state's Medicaid program. Medicaid, an insurance program for the poor and the disabled, is paid for through federal and state dollars. In general, the state picks up approximately 30 percent of the tab and the federal government pays 70 percent. However, the federal government retroactively increased its share of the federal government's portion of the tab.

That means the state had additional state money in that program that it could allocate for the shortfall, said Mary Lassiter, the state budget director.

Which is all very misleading.

In reality, the Consensus Forecasting Group met on November 26, 2008 and released a forecast of general fund revenues of $8.4299 billion for fiscal year 2009. Then, in February 2009, the General Assembly passed a budget bill based on that forecast. Then, ten days ago, the budget office announced that revenues actually were $8.4264 billion.

That's a $3.5 million difference, not a $55 million difference.

Blah, blah, blah Medicaid blah...

There was no shortfall to plug. New taxes, old revenues...all that matters is that revenues met expectations. Don't let Beshear and his funny buddy Abramson tell you otherwise.

The Races: Senate 18 - Dr. Jack Ditty is Republican Nominee

The Republicans have selected their candidate for the special election to replace Charlie Borders in the18th Senate District. Dr. Jack Ditty of Greenup County will face likely Democrat nominee Robin Webb.

Here's the reporting on Dr. Ditty:

GOP picks state Senate candidate [AP]
Doctor said to be possible GOP pick [H-L]
Special Senate election shaping up [C-J]
Senate closer to a power struggle [C-J]

The website for Dr. Ditty's dermatology practice is here.

Beshear to Run for Reelection

After failing miserably at achieving his top priority - and just about any other priorities - continued demonstrations of his lack of political influence and losing his running mate, many wondered if Governor Beshear would even be interested in a second term.

Apparently, he is and he's even got a new running mate.

We wonder what Crit LuAllen will do...

July 17, 2009

Arkansas Democrat a Voice of Common Sense on National Health

Amen to this post from the Club for Growth:

Blue Dog: Health Care Bill Won't Pass

Even though he's a liberal, he's making a lot of sense. From the Politico:

Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, a key negotiator on health care for moderate Blue Dog Democrats, has warned that "there's no way they can pass the current bill on the House floor. Not even close."

Ross doesn't believe the bill unveiled Tuesday comes close to curtailing the ever-escalating costs of health care spending, particularly for Medicare.

The conservative Arkansas Democrat also objects to the surtaxes included in the bill, saying, "I don't like the idea of raising taxes in the worst economic crisis since World War II."

This kind of common sense eludes the majority of Democrats in the House, especially the party's leadership.

Independent Leeper new Senate A&R Chair

Somewhat buried in the news of Charlie Borders' retirement from the Senate is Senate President David Williams announcement that Sen. Bob Leeper will become the new chair of Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

This completes a long trip for Sen. Leeper.

Leeper was elected to the Senate in 1990 as a Democrat. In 1999, he switched to the GOP, a switch that was critical for the Republican takeover of the Senate.

In 2005, Sen. Leeper has a fallout with Senate leadership, ostensively over the way the seating of Dana Seum-Stephenson in the 35th Senate district was handled, but probably also due to being left out of a shuffle of Senate leadership and committee chairmen that year.

Apparently all is well again between him and David Williams, as he has been given the most important chairmanship of the Senate.

Senator Leeper has worn his independence well, ranking #2 in the Senate in our 2007 rankings, and scoring an adequate 72 in 2008. Both years he ranked above Charlie Borders, the previous chairman.

July 16, 2009

The Rest of the US Senate Numbers

The rest of the Senate fundraising numbers are in, and they are underwhelming. Dr. Dan's about even with the incumbent, both of whom seriously trail their opponents:

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Southgate, raised $284,649.58 for his re-election campaign in the second quarter of the year, which is less than half the amount potential Republican challenger Trey Grayson raised in the same time period.


Of the four top contenders for Bunning's seat, the incumbent raised the least money during the past three months. Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway says he pulled in $1.32 million during the second quarter, compared to $602,699 for Grayson, $302,993 for Democratic Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and $284,649 for Bunning.

Kentucky Chamber Concerned With State Spending

Apparently satisfied with the tax increases they helped push through the General Assembly this last February, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is now declaring that Kentucky has a spending problem:

A Kentucky business leader says the state takes in enough money to run state government, but lawmakers should do a better job of managing budget-busting programs such as Medicaid, prisons and public employee health care. Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson says out-of-control spending in those areas has gobbled up too much of Kentucky's annual budget, and has reached "unsustainable" levels.

We've long pointed out that Kentucky's problem is not a revenue problem but a spending problem, and we're glad the Chamber is coming on board.

Hat Tip: KyWordSmith

The Races: Senate 18 - Robin Webb's Record of Tax-and-Spend

Representative Webb scored just 29 on our 2008 scorecard, following a 28 in 2007. In 2007, she ranked dead last, #100, in the House, indicating she was the most dedicated tax-and-spender.

In 2008, she voted for new insurance mandates that make health care more expensive for everyone (HB 148). She voted for five new taxes and tax increases, including a $148 million tax hike, and a 2% tax on only new employees in "development areas" (HB 262, 611, 635, 689, 734). While Vice-chair of the budget committee in the House, she created and voted for the most indebted budget in the history of the Commonwealth (HB 406) and a legislative budget that grew at over 5% annually (while the economy shrinks and the rest of the budget grew at only about 1.5%). Also she attempted to balance the budget by supporting an unconstitutional taking of private property.

In a conservative district, that's a solid record of disregard for free enterprise to run against, but that will be a challenge in such a short time.

It's Official: Sen. Borders to PSC, Special Election Called for Aug. 25

The rumor has become reality and Governor Steve Beshear has appointed Senate Appropriations and Revenue Chair Charlie Borders to the PSC. Almost simultaneously, he called a special election for the 18th Senate district on August 25th.

In our earlier analysis, we noted that this is a district that voted Republican in all races other than the state House in 2008, but that all House members who represent parts of this district are Democrats.

We also noted that Reps. Robin Webb and Tanya Pullin represented the biggest populations of the district. The process for selection of a candidate for a special election varies between the two parties, but in both cases the decision lies locally, with the party committees in each district choosing a candidate to nominate.

The Herald-Leader has now reported twice that Representative Robin Webb will be the likely candidate for the Democrats, while no names have been mentioned for Republicans.

July 15, 2009

Another NKY City Offers Real Stimulus

In May we noted that the city of Walton, Kentucky was doing good by its taxpayers, cutting spending despite good revenue projections.

Now comes the story of Ryland Heights looking to ease the tax burden of its citizens.

At Tuesday night's Ryland Heights City Commission meeting, officials are expected to offer taxpayers a one-time, 50 percent reduction in their city property taxes if they pay them early or on time.

"What prompted this was we were looking for ways that we could help our citizens out in these tough economic times," said Ryland Heights Mayor Bob Miller. "The city's financially stable, so we thought, 'Why not help our taxpayers who are out of work or struggling to get by?"'


[City Commissioner John] Cole said officials "trimmed (the current) budget every way they could" so that they could offer the tax break. Revenues from the city's tax on insurance premiums also came in about $11,000 higher than projected during the fiscal year just ended, officials said.

A Gold Star for Ryland Heights!

Chandler Wants Kentucky to Be More Like California: Expensive Electricity and Rolling Blockouts

The Congressional Cap and Tax Bill really is an effort to make Kentucky be more like California. The theory behind it is that current electricity prices are too low because they do not appropriately take into account the expense of carbon dioxide's impact on our way of life.

On June 30th, Chandler wrote in the Herald-Leader:

We are making a significant investment in our future, where the benefits far outweigh the costs, especially for our children. In fact, the cost to the average family will be about the cost of one postage stamp per day.

The Congressional Budget Office contends that the legislation will "only" cost every family about $180, which Chandler contends is a small price to pay for less carbon dioxide from America.

As the Kentucky Coal Association's Bill Caylor elucidates in a responding opinion:

Rep. Ben Chandler claims to have helped the environment by voting for the recent cap and trade tax, but in reality his vote does little other than cost the citizens of Kentucky.

The bill works to cut emissions and reduce energy consumption in the United States by raising the cost of fossil fuels, such as coal, and making energy more expensive. While increasing the cost of coal does not hurt states that use little coal, such as California and Massachusetts (home to the bill's sponsors), it will have a crushing impact on Kentucky, which relies on coal to generate 92 percent of its electricity and directly employs more than 17,000 Kentucky citizens. Economists estimate the $9 trillion tax will cost an average Kentucky household $3,600 each year and force Kentucky to buy over $385 million in offsets from foreign countries each year. We disagree that a tax which severely impacts Kentucky but not California or Massachusetts is a good way to "transform the economy," as Chandler suggests.

Aren't we glad we're not California?

July 14, 2009

Patrick Duerr to Run Against Rep. Tom Riner

Rep. Tom Riner (Jefferson Co., 2008 score: 59) apparently has an opponent for 2010.

Page One Kentucky pointed out the website of Patrick Duerr:

I am a proud fiscal conservative that believes we should utilize our current financial resources more productively, before one more dollar in additional taxes are raised. I am excited that our community has demanded action from our current representatives but their failures can not be overlooked.

I believe that Kentucky can become economically sound once again, but we must take care and provide assistance to all the Kentucky families and businesses that have been forced to sacrifice and make undesirable decisions during these strenuous times. We can do this by stimulate our state economy through corporate and small business tax cuts, reducing personal income tax and by aggressively recruiting new businesses to our beautiful state.

Budget Office Expects Certain Spending to be Reduced an Additional 0.4%

Earlier we noted that Governor Beshear promised to reduce spending beyond his original proposal (and that he wasn't sure whether he approved of spending reductions).

Apparently, the Budget Office has now indicated that spending should be reduced at least an additional 0.4%:

In a letter mailed Friday and obtained by Kentucky Public Radio, State Budget Director Mary Lassiter is warning of possible budget cuts of 3% to 4% this fiscal year. That's higher than the 2.6% cuts in Gov. Steve Beshear's budget-balancing plan approved by state lawmakers last month.

0.4% of the budget is about $36 million.

Two of Senate Repubican Leadership Rumored to Leave

The Herald-Leader is reporting on a rumor circulating in Kentucky Roll Call that we have heard elsewhere: that Republican Senators Dan Kelly (2008 score: 71) and Charlie Borders (71) are up for appointments, and that Governor Steve Beshear is likely to appoint them.

Sen. Kelly is the Republican Floor Leader and Sen. Borders is the Chairman of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Both are up for reelection in 2010.

Should these seats become vacancies though appointment, special elections will be held to fill the remainder of the term. One of the best sources for Senate candidates is the representatives of the same area in the Kentucky House.

Senate 18

Borders' district (Bracken, Carter, Greenup, Lewis, Mason and Robertson counties) is represented in the House by four Democrats: Mike Denham (2008 score: 49), Tanya Pullin (49), Tom McKee (49) and Robin Webb (29). Both Webb and Denham represent two of the six counties. Pullin and Webb each represent about one-third of the district's voters.

This is a district that votes conservatively, often splitting tickets for Republicans nationally and Democrats locally. While presidential candidate John McCain and US Representative Geoff Davis won the district handily, US Senator Mitch McConnell edged Democratic candidate Bruce Lunsford by only 2%. These numbers suggest that a Republican can be successful, but the most obvious candidates are Democrats.

Senate 14

Kelly's district (Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties) is represented in the House by four Republicans and one Democrat: Republicans David Floyd (2008 score: 83), Mike Harmon (78), Jimmy Higdon (63) and Bam Carney (new); and Democrat Kent Stevens (new). The most populous county is Nelson, represented by David Floyd.

This district voted overwhelmingly for McCain, and gave about a 6% edge to McConnell. On the other hand, the four counties that lie in the 2nd US congressional district gave a slight edge to losing Democratic candidate David Boswell over US Representative Brett Guthrie in that race.

While Kent Stevens represents the one county that is not in the 2nd, the fact that he did not win Mercer probably eliminates him as a potential candidate in the 14th.

Both David Floyd and Mike Harmon scored above 70 in our 2008 ratings, and both ranked in the top 10 for 2007 and 2008. Harmon, though, represents the least populous county in this district. On the topic of the day, it is also relevant to note that Floyd voted for HB 2, the bill to allow video slots at racetracks, while Higdon and Carney voted no and Harmon did not vote.

July 13, 2009

Right-To-Work Means More People Working

From ATR:

Examining unemployment in all 50 states and the District of Columbia shows that states without Right to Work laws average over 9% unemployment, whereas states with right to work laws average only 7.8% - a difference of over 1.2%. Lest there be any doubt as to the relationship between right to work laws and unemployment, statistical analysis and regression modeling proves a correlation does indeed exist at a statistically significant level (p<0.05).

Mike Cope to Take Court to Sen. Worley

It appears the State Senate Democrat Leader has drawn a primary opponent for 2010.

Mike Cope, who has taken issue with Sen. Worley's construction of a project he voted to appropriate funds for, has filed his papers with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Sen. Worley ranked #31 of 38 in our 2008 rankings.

Mr. Cope raised questions about Worley's contract at a recent Richmond city council meeting, and was interviewed by the Richmond Register:

Interviewed Wednesday, Cope said he believe Worley's involvement in the project was "a blatant conflict of interest."

"Given the political corruption we see today and Sen. Worley's past problems with land deals, you'd think he know better than to be involved in something like this," Cope said.

The legislative ethics code should be amended, Cope said, to prohibit legislators from doing business with the local governments and the judicial branch of state government.

He also disputed Worley's claim that the idea of leasing the First Street property to the county for use by family court came about only recently.

"I think if you'll dig a little deeper, you will find that his deal has been in the works for quite a long time," he alleged.

Mr. Cope contends that his concern about Worley's conflict of interest is not his motivation to seek office.

City of Corbin Raises Alcohol Tax, Hurts Economy

Just this February, the General Assembly passed a new 6% sales tax on alcohol, which created a double-tax on a product the state already taxed at the wholesale level.

To add to the unfairness of the tax, it only applied to 30 of Kentucky's 120 counties.

Yesterday, the city of Corbin piled on.

In Corbin, where there is already an additional 6% tax on alcohol sales, they voted to raise the tax another percent. (The headline is here but the article doesn't match. The story on the increase is here.)

In April, when the state tax took effect, tax receipts fell 55% due to simple economic concepts, as illustrated here:

As ATR puts it:

...The last time the federal government raised the distilled spirits excise tax, it took 11 years to bring in more revenue. And look at what happened with tobacco tax hikes. New Jersey raised the cigarette tax 17.5 cents in 2007. They collected $52 million less than they had projected and $22 million below what they collected before the tax hike. Maryland raised the cigarette tax $1, in 2007 sales dropped by 25% and there was a 254% increase in cigarettes illegally crossing state lines. When Arkansas passed a 56-cent tax hike on cigarettes in February, revenue projections were lowered by $14 million just one month after passage.

Hiking taxes hurts consumers and kills jobs - and doesn't even raise revenue. There's a good reason why friends don't let friends hike taxes.

July 10, 2009

State Budget Forecast Hits Mark, Budget in Shape for FY 2010

Way back in November, we asked "So When Are State Revenues Going to Tumble?"

The Consensus Forecasting Group had met, and on November 26, released a forecast of general fund revenues of $8.4299 billion for fiscal year 2009.

We were skeptical of this claim through the first half of the fiscal year, but February revenues took a tumble, causing us to write:

It is unlikely we'll know where we'll end up until we are there.

Revenues were significantly down in April and June as well. Now the fiscal year has concluded, and the revenue number is in. The State Budget Office reports that fiscal year 2009 revenues were $8.4264 billion.

Only $3.5 million off! How's that for accuracy?

Now, because the tax hikes passed in February, the budget office is saying revenues are actually $55 million short:

FY09 General Fund revenues were $55.7 million less than the official revised revenue estimate rendered by the Consensus Forecasting Group and modified by 2009 legislation, which projected a 2.1 percent decline in revenues.

But the new tax is irrelevant when comparing the final revenue number to expectations set when the budget was passed in 2008. This is a misleading way of looking at things that has been used before.

The important numbers are that the 2008 budget expected to spend $9.330 billion in FY 2009 based on revenue that included $8.824 billion in General Fund revenues. The General Fund ended up at $8.426 billion, falling $398 million short of expectations.

To make up that shortfall, Governor Beshear told us he'd make $147 million in cuts, and the General Assembly authorized him to spend the state's rainy day fund (a little over $200 million) and $50 million of the state pension plans' health fund. The total of those funds cover the shortfall almost exactly, but the $50 million of borrowing and spending of reserves budgeted for FY 2010 creates an immediate hole for FY 2010.

Nonetheless, because revenues hit the original revised forecast, our analysis from May still stands: if FY 2010 revenues match FY 2009 revenues at about $8.425 billion, the state would have to answer a $500 million shortfall. (We would compare this to the May CFG estimate, but it does not seem to be an official estimate, or at least there's no forecast online.)

The recent special session provided options that would cover a shortfall of $1 billion. FY 2010 would have to decline by more than 5% versus FY 2009 for that plan to be inadequate.

July 9, 2009

Lexington Decides To Protect Trees Again

We won't let this issue die.

Today's H-L reports that Lexington's "Tree Board" is considering increasing fines for removing trees without permits. It seems Lexington still cares about protecting trees.

This wasn't the case last month when the city council voted overwhelmingly to knock down dozens of old oaks lining Tate's Creek Road in order to install an underbudgeted sidewalk that the residents don't want.

If the council approves the fee increase, they set up this dichotomy:

It's OK to kill old trees if the city wants to, but don't dare touch a tree on your private property without the city's permission.

Property owners in Lexington should be disgusted.

Conway Raises Lots of Cash, Paul Sets Decision Deadline

Old news now, but since we mentioned others, we need to point out that Attorney General Jack Conway raised over $1.3 million for his US Senate run.

He called it "unprecedented" and we've been wondering in what way it has no precedent. The H-L explains:

The Conway campaign called the fund-raising effort record-breaking, saying that no other Kentucky Democratic U.S. Senate candidate has raised that much money in one three-month period.

The story also mentions that Darlene Fitzgerald Price reports raising $15,000.

We'll keep you updated.

Elsewhere yesterday, Rand Paul set a deadline to decisions of whether or not to make his shadow campaign a real campaign. He decide to make his exploratory effort a real effort by Aug. 14.

July 8, 2009


Gatewood's running for Governor. This time with a twist: he's planning on raising money:

"I believe we can raise over a million dollars and win this race," Galbraith said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

He has usually run for office as an outsider, but he seems to be tweaking that approach for this campaign. In many of his recent campaigns he has eschewed fundraising, claiming he didn't want to be beholden to any moneyed interests (as if he'd ever change).

Adding to his reversal in approach, his running mate this time around is not just in politics but an actual political consultant by the name of Dea Riley. We mentioned her on this blog back in April when she was quoted in an AP article.

We always look forward to Gatewood's quotes on the trail.

Lexington City Council Hearts Overpaying for Sidewalks

Earlier we told you about the city of Lexington throwing $200,000 at starting a sidewalk project that the neighborhood doesn't want, were a low priority on Lexington's list, and inevitably face cost overruns.

Last night they did it again. For a project including some priorities and other extravagances: "to replace sewer lines, bury utility lines, create a bike lane and install street trees, rain gardens and signs along a portion of South Limestone" the city received two bids, both over the original estimate.

Only Vice-Mayor Jim Gray voted against it, saying:

"There's three things that aren't right about the project: the process, the priority and the price," Gray said. "We're shoehorning ourselves into the project."

We wonder where his concern was a month ago when the council put the same process in place to receive the Tate's Creek sidewalk grant.

We'll be interested in hearing what the council does when the true cost of that "$200,000 project" comes in...

July 7, 2009

UPDATED: Owensboro Mayor Considers Dropping League of Cities

We've mentioned the ridiculous spending of the Kentucky Association of Counties (Living the High Life on Your Dime), but we've been remiss to mention the similar investigation of the Kentucky League of Cities.

As Page One Kentucky put it a month ago:

Does the League of Cities really need to give Sylvia Lovely a BMW SUV and pay her $315,000? And how can three people spend $300K on travel? Lovely has a LOT of explaining to do. Robbing this state blind. Oh, and Jim Newberry? He's technically her boss. Imagine that. ANOTHER scandal involving hundreds of thousands of dollars on Newberry's watch. [H-L]

Well, one mayor is taking action. Mayor Ron Payne of Owensboro is recommending to his city that they need to shop around:

Just days ago, Kentucky State Auditor Crit Luallen's office announced that the League and the Kentucky Association of Counties will be audited.

The League has taken several actions in response to the criticism, but Payne said the league has not done enough.

"With an audit under way, we'll take action pending the outcome of that audit," Payne said.

Chief among his concerns, Payne said, is the apparent lack of knowledge by the League's board of staff salaries and spending.

"There needs to be some policy changes made," he said. "I'm anxious to see what comes out of the audit."

Cheers for a Mayor taking action when the real problems of the good-ol'-boy system are exposed. So much of Kentucky is run on a perversion of the golden rule: "I won't criticize your actions as long as you look the other way on mine." This is where accountability should enter the system, and a gold star for Mr. Payne for actually acting.

UPDATE: Not yet.

The Herald Leader has updated its story, saying that Payne has basically put the league on probation. Let's hope he continues to exert pressure for change.

July 6, 2009

Al Cross Blisters Beshear's Political Ability

If you didn't read Al Cross' Sunday column, you missed a lot of love for Crit LuAllen and this scathing critique of Governor Beshear's political operation:

Beshear seems to need focus and organization.

After getting elected on a platform of casinos by way of referendum, the Governor failed to push it strongly enough in the legislature. After switching to the alternative of slot machines at racetracks via legislative votes alone, he failed to assemble the broad coalition of interests that is needed to make such a major change in public policy.

Beshear said he wanted a "clean bill" that didn't dedicate the state's revenue from slots, and when that didn't gain enough support, he had to go along with House Speaker Greg Stumbo's gambit to build schools in districts whose representatives voted for the bill. What if Beshear had started by making clear to education, health and social-service advocates that racetrack slots would give the state the revenue needed to support their causes, and getting them to campaign for the bill? The result might have been different. That's hindsight, but it does seem that his office needs better strategists and tacticians.

It wasn't just hindsight to most people, Al.

Grayson Raises $600,000+ To Not Run Against Bunning

The first of the US Senate campaign finance numbers are out and non-candidate Trey Grayson reports over $600,000 from over 1,150 donors.

Remaining candidates to report are Senator Jim Bunning, Gov. Lt. Dan Mongiardo, AG Jack Conway, non-candidate Rand Paul, Roger Tooney, Bill Johnson and others I'm sure we don't know about...

Beshear Unsure What He Thinks About Reducing Spending

Recently, Governor Steve Beshear applauded himself for reducing spending instead of raising taxes:

"Policy and problem-solving triumphed over partisan politics and historical rivalries. What specifically did we accomplish?

"First, the legislature approved my plan to fill a projected $1 billion hole in a $9 billion budget caused by depressed tax receipts.

"My plan did not raise taxes. Instead, it relied primarily on one-time use of federal stimulus funds and on spending cuts -- hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts on top of the $600 million we've cut in the past 18 months.

"These cuts will be made carefully to preserve our top priorities -- the SEEK formula that funds our K-12 classrooms, higher education, the Medicaid safety net, which is being used by an increasing number of families who formerly eschewed public help; and key public safety areas like police officers, prisons and prosecutors."

But in another instance, he took a moment to scold the General Assembly for requiring spending to be reduced:

"And finally, the process of balancing future budgets was made more difficult when the General Assembly created new financial obligations without including the revenue for them.

"I support those ideas, which included tax breaks for active duty military personnel and people who buy new cars and houses. But the General Assembly made those tax cuts effective immediately instead of in 2011, as I had requested. The decision will force deeper cuts to other agencies whose funding has already been reduced, in some cases by more than 20 percent.

"We will make these cuts. We're here to lead. But as we head into another difficult budget cycle, we must -- all of us -- be mindful of the impact of the fiscal decisions we make.

Many people expect politicians to tell two different things to two different audiences. But Beshear holds these opposite opinions in the same op-ed. How's that for double-talk?

July 3, 2009

Independence Day Freedom Rallies

Here's the list compiled by plus a few additions:

Friday July 3 ---

Jenkins City Park in downtown Jenkins, Kentucky. 6pm to 8pm.

Madison County Courthouse in Richmond. 6pm to 7:30pm.

Saturday July 4 ---

Jefferson Square in Louisville. 11am to 2pm.

Laurel County Courthouse in London. Noon to 1pm.

Corbin City Hall in Corbin. Noon to 2 pm.

Grant County Courthourse in Williamstown. Noon.

Burlington, KY. Burlington Courthouse. Noon.

State Capitol steps in Frankfort. Noon to 2pm.

Fayette County Courthouse in Lexington. Starts at 3:30pm right after the parade.

Walton Kentucky Courthouse. Noon.

July 2, 2009

David Adams Suspends KyProgress to Join Paul non-Campaign

A great interruption to the Kentucky political blogisphere tonight as Kentucky Progress author David Adams announces the suspension of his blog while he joins the Rand Paul maybe for Senate campaign.

Godspeed to Mr. Adams as he puts the rubber to the road in defense of liberty.


Government Bytes has lists of earmark requests for three spending bills in the US House. Here are Kentucky's:

KY 01 - Ed Whitfield
Bill Recipient Project Amount
HR 2996 City of Tompkinsville, KY water treatment plant backwash lagoon $189,000
HR 2892 Russell County Fiscal Court Predisaster Mitigation $200,000
HR 2847 Pennyrile Narcotic Task Force, Hopkinsville, KY Law Enforcement Programs and Equipment $750,000
Total in three bills: $1,139,000


KY 02 - Brett Guthrie
Bill Recipient Project Amount
HR 2996 Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Water Resource Agency Locust Hills Subdivision sewer installation project $220,000
HR 2996 Breckinridge County Fiscal Court Judge Joseph Holt House Historic Restoration $150,000
HR 2847 Daviess County Sheriff Second District Methamphetamine Eradication $300,000
Total in three bills: $670,000


KY 03 - John Yarmuth
Bill Recipient Project Amount
HR 2892 Louisville-Metro Government Predisaster Mitigation $500,000
HR 2847 Louisville Metropolitan Police Department Mobile Data Computers $300,000
HR 2847 First Gethsemane Center for Family Development, Louisville Reducing Barriers to Success for At-risk Youth $100,000
Total in three bills: $900,000


KY 04 - Geoff Davis
Bill Recipient Project Amount
HR 2996 City of Wurtland, KY Wurtland/ Greenup/Lloyd regional sewer project $500,000
HR 2892 City of Brooksville, KY Predisaster Mitigation $18,500
HR 2847 Fleming County Fiscal Court Law Enforcement Equipment Project $48,000
HR 2847 Henry County Sheriff Law Enforcement Equipment Upgrades $82,000
HR 2847 Oldham County Police Department Oldham County Mobile Data Terminal Project $57,000
HR 2847 Pendleton County Sheriff Law Enforcement Technology and Equipment $12,000
HR 2847 Oldham County Sheriff's Office Equipment Upgrades, Oldham County Sheriff $75,000
Total in three bills: $792,500


KY 05 - Hal Rogers
Bill Recipient Project Amount
HR 2996 Perry County Sanitation District No. 1 wastewater treatment infrastructure $500,000
HR 2996 Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Middlesboro, KY Cumberland Gap NHP, Fern Lake $500,000
HR 2892 Russell County Fiscal Court Predisaster Mitigation $200,000
HR 2892 Eastern Kentucky University Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium $3,000,000
HR 2892 National Institute for Hometown Security Research, Development, Acquisition, and Operations $10,000,000
HR 2892 Kentucky Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center $500,000
HR 2892 Kentucky Emergency Management Predisaster Mitigation $500,000
HR 2847 Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, Inc., Somerset, KY Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, Inc. $1,000,000
HR 2847 Operation UNITE, Somerset, KY Narcotics Law Enforcement & Interdiction, Education and Deterrence $4,450,000
Total in three bills: $20,450,000


KY 06 - Ben Chandler
Bill Recipient Project Amount
HR 2996 Franklin County Fiscal Court Farmdale Area wastewater treatment plant $900,000
HR 2996 City of Paris combined utilities water plan improvements $500,000
HR 2892 Mercer County Emergency Management Agency Emergency Operations Center $300,000
HR 2847 Winchester Police Department Law Enforcement Technology $30,000
HR 2847 Bourbon County Sheriff Law Enforcement Technology $50,000
HR 2847 City of Stamping Ground Law Enforcement Technology $30,000
HR 2847 Garrard County Fiscal Court Law Enforcement Technology $145,000
HR 2847 Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, Lexington Bluegrass Domestic Violence Transitional Housing $325,000
HR 2847 Chrysalis House, Lexington Chrysalis House Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program $175,000
Total in three bills: $2,455,000

Voting in Ignorance - Update

During the Special Session we noted that the debate on the budget featured a roll call vote on whether to view a fiscal note prior to voting on the bill. In other words, the Kentucky House cast votes on whether to know how much the budget cost the treasury. Remarkably, there were over forty votes against knowing how much the bill cost.

Also remarkable, however predictable, this vote is not listed in the vote history of HB 1.

We vowed to let you know who these legislators were, and we will. We're just going to have to go to the tape...

Continued Stimulus Fail

In an update from a graphic we posted earlier, unemployment continues to rocket in the opposite direction proclaimed by the stimulus's champions. This is due entirely to its poor design.

July 1, 2009

Political Leadership "Too Liberal" According to Gallup

Gallup's latest survey shows a serious uptick in the percentage of individuals who view the Democratic party as too liberal. The party in power nationally is rated as "too liberal" by 46% of the respondents, while only 42% rated them "just right". The accompanying graph shows the last time 'too liberal" out polled "just right" for the Democrats was 1995.

However, 17% also rate the Republican Party as "too liberal" as well, showing a bi-partisan concern with the liberal bent of the country.

Last Call for June Comrad of the Month Nominees

We've received some great nominations for our inaugural Comrade of the Month Award, and we don't know how we're going to chose. Still, we'll be happy to take your nominations for June for one more day.

Each month, we'll take nominations from members, and put them to a members' vote at the end of the month.

Nominees can be public officials or really anyone who is advancing the kind of anti-growth policy that is keeping Kentucky in poverty and making our commonwealth an unattractive place for economic growth. Since we are the Kentucky Club for Growth, we'll focus on Kentucky officials and actions by them that affect Kentucky specifically.

So, throughout June, especially here during the special session, keep an eye on the goings-on in your city, in Frankfort, and throughout the state, and send us examples of people and policy standing in the way of prosperity.

If you have a good candidate, email me.

Drees: Raise gas tax to fund bridge - Pat Crowley,

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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.