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May 28, 2010

Stumbo Again Threatens to Derail Budget

Once again, House Speaker Greg Stumbo is threatening that it's his way or the highway, attempting to derail the budget process with his stubbornness.

In the middle of throwing around baseless insults and generally not doing his job, Speaker Greg Stumbo made one of the more ridiculous statements of the day.

A conference committee could be avoided if the Senate adopts the House budget, he said.

If the Senate should approve a budget bill later Friday and then adjourn, putting he House in an accept-it-or-reject-it position, Stumbo said "we won't have a budget."

That's right, the Senate must 'take-it-or-leave-it' on the House budget and not put the House in a 'take-it-or-leave-it' position.

Senate President David Williams summed up the Speaker's useless rhetoric nicely:

Williams said that the House was overreacting on many of the Senate's proposals, including the budget amendments, the road plan and the unemployment bill.

And he accused the House of making threats without talking to Senate leadership and said that today shouldn't be plagued with politics as usual.

"I don't see any reason for politics to be involved in this," he said. "If a budget isn't passed today, it won't be the Senate's fault and it won't be the governor's fault."

The fault will rest exactly where it did when the regular session adjourned without a budget: at the feet of Speaker Stumbo.

May 27, 2010

While Most Support Budget With Flat Spending, Some Big Spenders Whine

Yesterday, the House passed a budget that is in line with what House Republicans and the state Senate originally proposed. Total spending equals about $17.2 billion over the biennium, an amount equal to current expenditures ($8.5 billion in 2010). Debt service (the amount the state must pay in principle and interest to retire existing debt) is limited to about 6.8% of revenues -- still way too high, but mostly inherited from previous irresponsible budgets.

Even though the budget contains modest increases at a time when cuts are really required, the big spenders in Frankfort continued to complain.

Defeated Representative Charlie Siler (2010 Score: 45) -

Then the filled committee room fell silent as Rep. Charlie Siler, a Corbin Republican, spoke. A veteran lawmaker who lost in his Republican primary on Tuesday, said he might have voted differently a week ago because he heard from constituents frustrated that the General Assembly failed in its duty to pass a budget. But he said a bad budget is worse than no budget at all because once it's passed, the money is spent. "Take that as sour grapes, and that will be the last you hear about it from me," Siler said. "I vote 'No.'"

Retiring Representative Ron Weston (2010 Score: 21)

Another retiring lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Ron Weston, D-Louisville, blamed the bill on "political posturing" during the last session and urged the media to investigate who, for election reasons, forced the General Assembly to have to compromise, presumably pointing the finger at Senate Republicans, who were on on the other end of the negotiating table from House Democrats.

It continues to amaze us that elected politicians like Mr. Weston can act so offended that they must live within their means like the rest of us!

May 26, 2010

House Agrees to Original Senate Debt Levels

The cost of every day of this Special Session should be paid out of Greg Stumbo's pocket.

Here we are, a month and a week after the Constitutionally-mandated end of the regular session, and the budget that the House is finally agreeing to matches the Senate's original proposal.

Interest and principal payments on that would make up 6.88 percent of the state's estimated revenue -- the same amount suggested by the Senate in April. That's down from the House's initial proposal in March of 7.66 percent and from the 7.8 percent in the original budget draft Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled in January.

Every day of this session is a direct result of the Speaker's refusal to accept what he is accepting now. His lack of timely leadership is costing you $65,000 per day.

May 25, 2010

More Scorecard to Come

We've published the rankings, but there's more to come. We'll separate out the 2009 and 2010 rankings and explain the highlights and lowlights of each year. We'll talk about the bills scored, and we'll publish all the documentation.

Stay tuned...

The 2009-2010 Senate Scorecard Rankings

Rank Member (2010-2009 Score)
1 Thayer, Damon (73%)
2 Schickel, John (69%)
3 Buford, Tom (64%)
4 Westwood, Jack (61%)
5 Seum, Dan "Malano" (61%)
6 Denton, Julie (60%)
7 Stine, Katie Kratz (60%)
8 Hidgon, Jimmy (59%*)
9 McGaha, Vernie (54%)
10 Webb, Robin (53%*)
11 Tapp, Gary (53%)
12 Reynolds, Mike (51%)
13 Leeper, Robert J. "Bob" (50%)
14 Smith, Brandon (50%)
15 Tori, Elizabeth (49%)
16 Stivers, Robert (49%)
17 Givens, David (49%)
18 Kerr, Alice Forgy (49%)
19 Clark, Perry (48%)
20 Pendleton, Joey (47%)
21 Harris, Ernie (47%)
22 Jensen, Tom (44%)
23 Winters, Kenneth (42%)
24 Carroll, Julian (42%)
25 Williams, David L. (41%)
26 Gibson, Carroll (41%)
27 Boswell, David E. (38%)
27 Ridley, Dorsey (38%)
29 Shaughnessy, Tim (37%)
30 Stein, Kathy (36%)
31 Neal, Gerald A. (36%)
31 Rhoads, Jerry P. (36%)
33 Turner, Johnny Ray (35%)
34 Palmer II, R. J. (35%)
35 Kelly, Dan (35%*)
36 Harper Angel, Denise (34%)
37 Worley, Ed (34%)
38 Borders, Charlie (33%*)
39 Jones II, Ray S. (32%)
40 Blevins Jr., Walter (31%)

*Note - Borders and Kelly only served in the 2009 tax-hiking long session -- which weighs heavily in this scorecard -- while Higdon and Webb did not serve in 2009.

Harry Moberly - The Once and Future Education Reformer

Retiring State Representative Harry Moberly (D-Madison, 2010 Rank #98) was once an education reformer. He was one of the 'young turks' in the early 1990s who pushed KERA through the legislature. Since then, he has stood in strong opposition to any significant changes to that plan, including 2008's effort to end KERA testing in favor of an existing national test.

It seems that he has a final act. In the face of reactionary opposition from the teachers' union that controls Greg Stumbo, Rep. Moberly has filed a bill to allow charter schools in Kentucky.

Ryan Alessi reports:

"I think it would be ridiculous if we don't look at it," Moberly said.

His House Bill 7, which he said he didn't have a chance to talk with Beshear or Democratic House leaders about before introducing on Monday, would allow local school districts -- and the commissioner of education -- the chance to approve the charter schools. He said his proposal would allow for four different types of charter schools:

  • Converted public schools, in which 75 percent of the faculty and parents vote to become a charter school, which receives public money and private contributions but are regulated by rules established in their charters and not by all the standard public school guidelines.
  • A statewide virtual charter school.
  • Career academies aimed at specific vocations.
  • And charter schools established in collaboration with colleges or universities.

Because House leadership is beholden to the teachers' union, and because the legislation is not a part of the call of the special session, the bill is going nowhere. But it is still an admirable effort from a retiring tax-and-spender.

The 2009-2010 House Scorecard Rankings

Rank Member (2010-2009 Score)
1 Lee, Stan (86)
2 DeCesare, Jim (81)
3 Wuchner, Addia (76)
4 Fischer, Joseph M. (74)
5 Harmon, Mike (72)
6 Dossett, Myron (68)
7 Kerr, Thomas (68)
8 Koenig, Adam (67)
9 Floyd, David (66)
10 Farmer, Bill (65)
11 Comer, James (61)
12 Webb-Edgington, A. (60)
13 Montell, Brad (60)
14 Bratcher, Kevin D. (60)
15 Moore, Tim (59)
16 Brinkman, Scott W. (59)
17 Housman, Brent (57)
18 Osborne, David (57)
18 Santoro, Sal (57)
20 Upchurch, Ken (56)
21 Couch, Tim (55)
22 York, Jill (55)
23 Hoover, Jeffrey (54)
24 Rudy, Steven (54)
25 Embry Jr., C.B. (54)
26 Turner, Tommy (52)
27 Rader, Marie L. (49)
28 Ford, Danny R. (47)
29 Carney, Bam (47)
30 Crimm, Ron (46)
31 Butler, Dwight D. (39)
32 Siler, Charles L. (38)
33 Higdon, Jimmy (38)
34 Stewart, Jim (36)
35 Simpson, Arnold (35)
36 DeWeese, Bob M. (35)
37 Napier, Lonnie (34)
38 Wayne, Jim (32)
39 Mills, Terry (30)
40 Steele, Fitz (28)
41 Sinnette, Kevin (28)
42 Hall, W. Keith (26)
43 Pullin, Tanya (26)
44 Smith, Ancel (26)
45 Webb, Robin L. (26)
46 Bell, Johnny (25)
47 Nelson, Rick (25)
48 Stone, Wilson (24)
49 King, Martha Jane (24)
50 Richards, Jody (24)
51 Adams, Royce W. (23)
52 Ballard, Eddie (23)
53 Belcher, Larry (23)
54 Henley, Melvin (23)
55 Riner, Tom (23)
56 Henderson, Richard (23)
57 Rand, Rick (23)
58 Lee, Jimmie (23)
59 Keene, Dennis (22)
60 Cherry, Mike (22)
61 Coursey, Will (22)
62 Flood, Kelly (22)
63 Greer, Jeff (22)
64 Collins, Hubert (21)
65 Stevens, Kent (21)
66 Thompson, Tommy (21)
67 Hoffman, Charlie (21)
68 Sims, Dottie (21)
69 Gooch Jr., Jim (21)
70 McKee, Thomas (20)
71 Edmonds, Teddy (20)
72 Combs, Leslie (20)
73 Damron, Robert R. (20)
74 Stumbo, Greg (20)
75 Nesler, Fred (20)
76 Firkins, Tim (20)
77 Tilley, John (20)
78 Weston, Ron (19)
79 Owens, Darryl (19)
80 Westrom, Susan (19)
81 Clark, Larry (19)
82 Stacy, John Will (19)
83 Overly, Sannie (19)
84 Adkins, Rocky (18)
85 Graham, Derrick W. (18)
86 Denham, Mike (18)
87 Pasley, Don (17)
88 Yonts, Brent (17)
89 Miller, Charles (17)
90 Burch, Thomas J. (17)
91 Arnold Jr, John A. (17)
92 Rollins, Carl (16)
93 Horlander, Dennis (16)
94 Jenkins, Joni L. (16)
95 Meeks, Reginald K. (16)
96 Glenn, Jim (16)
97 Watkins, David (15)
98 Moberly Jr., Harry (15)
99 Palumbo, Ruth Ann (15)
100 Riggs, Steven (15)
101 Crenshaw, Jesse (14)
102 Marzian, Mary Lou (14)

May 24, 2010

The Top 5 House Members on the 2009-2010 Scorecard

For a preview, these are the top five scores on the 2009-2010 Kentucky Club for Growth House Scorecard.

Rank Representative - Score
#5 Mike Harmon (R-Boyle) - 72%
#4 Joe Fischer (R-Campbell) - 74%
#3 Addia Wuchner (R-Boone) - 76%
#2 Jim DeCesare (R-Warren) - 81%
#1 Stan Lee (R-Fayette) -86%

Check back later for the full scorecard ranking.

The Bottom 5 House Members on the 2009-2010 Scorecard

For a preview, these are the bottom five scores on the 2009-2010 Kentucky Club for Growth House Scorecard.

Rank Representative - Score
#96 Harry Moberly (D-Madison) - 15%
#97 Ruth Ann Palumbo (D-Fayette) - 15%
#98 Steve Riggs (D-Jefferson) - 15%
#99 Jesse Crenshaw (D-Fayette) - 14%
#99 Mary Lou Marzian (D-Jefferson) - 14%

Check back for the top five and later for the full scorecard.

Greg Stumbo Loves to FAIL

So suggests Page One Kentucky.

The special legislative session starts in Frankfort today. What I think: The House Democrats are screwed. Greg Stumbo is adding additional projects to the allegedly agreed upon version of the budget that David Williams doesn't know about. Flustercuck waiting to happen. Any predictions? [Just Wondering]

Sources we've spoken with suggest that the budget proposal containing no new debt was not just the right thing to do but a political winner as well. As we've noted, everyone who is not Speaker of the House agrees on this approach.

Last year, Speaker Stumbo wasted $250,000 by waiting a week into the Special Session to act on the budget. How much can his bullheaded leadership cost the taxpayers this year?

Big Day at the Kentucky Club for Growth

It's a big day at the Kentucky Club for Growth.

Not only does the special session start today, but we'll start releasing our 2009-2010 Scorecard

Check back later today to see how your legislators ranked.

May 19, 2010

Tax-And-Spend Republican Loses

Lost in the midst of some exciting federal races, the Republican in the General Assembly most dedicated to spending your tax dollars was defeated in a primary.

From Ryan Alessi:

Of the 21 sitting state lawmakers who drew intra-party challenges, only two - a pair of veteran members of the House of Representatives -- lost.

Rep. Charlie Siler, R-Corbin, narrowly lost his seat to Dewayne Bunch, a science teacher, by 123 votes -- less than two percentage points in the 82nd House district.

Bunch is now the representative-elect because no Democrat filed to run for that seat. The third time was the charm for Bunch, who came in second to Siler out of four candidates in 2006, then lost to him by 11 percentage points in 2008.

Siler, 80, was one of the more moderate House Republicans. He supported unions, being from a big railroad area of Corbin, and occasionally crossed party lines on key votes. He also was known as a statesman. He wouldn't make many speeches on the House floor, but when he did, his colleagues listened.

Siler was, in fact, the most liberal Republican in the House, scoring only 42, 37, and 36 in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

While we are unfamiliar with Mr. Bunch, we expect this is an improvement for Kentucky.

May 18, 2010

Go Vote Today!

And check here tomorrow for breakdowns of results of state legislative primaries.

Also, a special session is at hand...let's keep the debt out of the budget!

May 7, 2010

Stumbo Wants to Copy a Failure

Although we already knew it, the Herald-Leader Bluegrass Poll has numbers to back it up: 3 of 5 Kentuckians label the Federal Stimulus a failure:

President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress regularly praise the stimulus -- much of which is flowing to state and local governments -- for helping staunch the nation's losses during the recession. More than $2.6 billion had gone to Kentucky as of March 31.

But in the statewide telephone survey of 600 likely voters this week, 43 percent said the stimulus hurt the economy and 19 percent said it had no effect. Only 13 percent said it helped, while 16 percent said it prevented the economy from getting worse. Nine percent weren't sure.

Half of Democrats said the stimulus helped the economy or prevented it from getting worse, compared to 8 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents.

Which is why we've always been perplexed that Speaker Stumbo would cause the budget process to fail just so he could have his own stimulus.

House Dems were eager to elect him Speaker. When they lose seats because of his horrible strategy, will they excuse him because of the national environment, or will they realize he is the reason state office candidates have an issue to run on?

May 6, 2010

Frankfort Has Little To Do To Get Budget Done

Over at Page One, Jake's concerned that no one is in Frankfort, working on a budget:

Look, folks, here's the deal: NOTHING is happening in Frankfort. Don't get your hopes up for a budget. Rick Rand isn't even in town this week. The Senate isn't doing anything. The House most certainly isn't. And the Governor's office is struggling. Based on the inactivity I've seen in that town this week? The Commonwealth of Kentucky is screwed. We're in for a rude awaking. [Just Saying]

We do not share his concern for three reasons:

First, many legislators plan time off after any session. Some are on vacation, some are home with families, but the two weeks post-session are always dead time.

Second, there's already more leeway on spending since they left town. The Feds are creating $176 deficit dollars to help Kentucky schools pay the bills. More to spend = less spine required.

Third, everyone now agrees on the budget direction except for a few stubborn holdouts. A rumored poll in Frankfort suggests that almost 75% of the population of Kentucky agrees with the Senate/House Republican position. We can't imagine Stumbo's about to shut government down to hold on to his fantasy that government can fix the economy. We also can't really imagine the political upheaval that would have to take place in Floyd county to really make Stumbo in danger, but, hey, David Obey's retiring!

May 3, 2010

House Speaker's All Alone

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover just issued a press release very nicely reiterating the fact that, when it come to the budget, Speaker Greg Stumbo is alone, adrift by himself.

Hover is quoted in the release as saying "...the main concern our caucus members hear from constituents related to the budget is they have grown weary of the tired strategy of 'tax, borrow and spend.' Our constituents do not want our Commonwealth to further borrow funds, but expect and demand us to show fiscal responsibility while crafting this document in tough economic times."

We've been well aware of the opposition of Senate Republicans and Democrats to Stumbo's stubborn plan, as well as the efforts of House Republicans to oppose it.

Last week, we learned that even Governor Beshear thinks Stumbo's stimulus is a bad idea.

Will Stumbo hold on to his debt-for-Kentucky plan until he shuts government down?

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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
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* 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.