Over at Page One, Jake points out that despite Governor Beshear saying he had nothing to do with the dismissal of an employee, the facts show otherwise. The directive came from the governor's office.
Yesterday, Governor Beshear painted a dire picture of the upcoming state budget:
"It's impossible to tell at this point," Beshear said when asked whether his budget proposal would include the layoffs of state workers. "Further reductions in spending at some of these agencies may result in some layoffs."
"It is going to be the most difficult budget to put together that this state has seen in modern times," Beshear said.
This is a pretty strong contrast to the recent words of House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Rand:
State Rep. Rick Rand (D-47th District) of Bedford, Ky., said that the commonwealth's budget for 2011 is "in pretty manageable shape," thanks to $3 billion from the federal stimulus bill passed earlier this year.
"Most difficult in modern times" or "Pretty manageable"? Is the budget chairman misinformed or is the Governor overstating?
At another point in the interview, Beshear said:
"We are going to be facing probably the toughest budget, over the next two years, that this state has ever faced," he said during a phone interview with reporters.
"Obviously, all options are going to have to be on the table as we figure out how to get this budget balanced over the next two years."
But Beshear said he would not support broad-based tax increases, such as sales and income tax hikes.
It's good that he's ruling out tax increases. But are "all options" otherwise really on the table?
How about Senator Thayer's proposal?
Frankfort is already discussing options from expanded gaming to additional budget cuts to tax reform to meet these looming challenges. It would be my suggestion, however, that we first dedicate ourselves to maximizing every dollar we invest in Kentucky's future.
Let us look at an example. According to a report by the Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky's prevailing wage laws artificially inflate school construction labor costs by 21 percent. That means that 21 cents of those dollars are directed at inflated wages as opposed to going toward investments in larger schools, enhanced technology, more energy efficient facilities and an overall better environment for Kentucky's children to learn in.
This is why I filed legislation to repeal "prevailing wage" during the 2009 Session and it is my intent to do so again. As the Governor and General Assembly come together to further address our budget shortfall, the time has also come to decide that failing to maximize our investment in our schools is a failure to maximize our investment in our children. Fortunately, this failure need not continue. We can increase our investment in our schools and Kentucky's children without having to raise one additional dollar from new taxes.
If this is really an option on the table, it's a no-brainer to save money for the state.
But does anyone really believe the governor?