Kentucky Club for Growth
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April 29, 2011

SOS Candidate Bill Johnson Is on the Radio

From MyCN2:

Republican Bill Johnson will be the first Secretary of State candidate to get his message on the radio airwaves, releasing a one-minute biographical ad statewide on Monday.

The ad says Johnson is "pro-gun" and mentions conservative credentials and military experience. It also pushes Johnson's campaign platform of picture ID at the polls, something Johnson and his Republican opponent, Hilda Legg, discuss frequently on the campaign trail.

Here is the ad:

April 28, 2011

Richie Farmer Drags David Williams Down

We haven't yet commented on Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer's blatant disregard of taxpayer interests.

He has:

(We are less concerned about reports of billing hotel rooms for the State Fair in Louisville, an hour away from Frankfort. The State Fair is an 11-day, agriculture-centered event that is open from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM with special events often beginning before 7:00 AM that would require the Ag Commissioner's presence.)

In each instance, Farmer has offered answers that fall short of explaining why he is in any way different that other government agencies that are cutting back, and suggest that he is more concerned about himself than the taxpayer.

  • On his new car: Farmer drove his previous state vehicle for 30 months, so he was due for a replacement in January, said spokesman Bill Clary. "The commissioner uses it to travel around the state for his appearances and meetings. He also gets to use it to travel from home to work as part of his benefits package."
  • On staff raises: Clary said Farmer thought it was more economical to give the pay raises than hire more staff. "We're probably 50 positions short of where we were three years ago," Clary said. "The work still has to get done. The thought process was that this was more cost-effective than hiring new people."
  • On refusing furloughs: "He doesn't agree with it, the whole furlough concept, philosophically," Clary said. "If it had been up to him, he wouldn't have asked any employees to take a furlough. So he's not going to participate."
  • On the hotel room in Lexington: He said Farmer needed the room because he spent long days at the tournament to promote the Kentucky Proud program -- a marketing effort to encourage Kentuckians to buy local food products. In an email Monday, Farmer said, "... the Sweet 16 tournament is one of its biggest statewide marketing opportunities....Our promotional strategy within Kentucky Proud is obviously working, and I do spend a tremendous amount of time making appearances for the program."

After weeks of bad press surrounding his actions, he has finally relented on furloughs donating $2071 to a church (his church?) and the Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund.

At best these reports are a distraction to Williams' campaign. He wants to appeal to conservative Republicans in the primary, and these episodes undercut his message - that Governor Beshear has mismanaged the state.

But Farmer's damage to the campaign goes beyond being a distraction. Instead he has brought David Williams down with him as Williams has decided to become an apologist for his running mate:

"If you go to all the games at the state basketball tournament before and after and you're there with a Kentucky Proud t-shirt working the crowd, promoting the situation, you know, $300 a day, you couldn't hire Richie Farmer and his celebrity status to be there and promote that," Williams said. "So I don't think that was a bad expenditure of state dollars for Richie Farmer to do."

No one buys this argument.

Let's say that, instead of Kentucky's most politically-famous basketball player, Kentucky's governor, who lives in the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort, has booked a four night hotel stay in Lexington at taxpayer expense. There is no reason that makes this sound like a reasonable arrangement at any cost. Frankfort is just too convenient to Lexington.

In fact, your writer lived in Lexington while working daily in Frankfort for years!

David Williams is attempting to run a campaign that pierces through the excuses of Steve Beshear for his administration's failures of leadership. He needs to stop making excuses for himself and his ticket.

April 27, 2011

UPDATED: Current Pension Culprits

The Kentucky Club for Growth was not around to score legislators in 2005.

If we were, we would certainly have included HB 299 on our scorecard that year. HB 299 changed the way legislators qualify for their dubiously-earned pensions in a way that radically benefited any legislator who held another job that was eligible for a non-federal government pension.

As described by Kentucky Roll Call, HB 299 allowed legislators to enrich their pensions...

...through a little-known law they passed in 2005 without any public hearings, in seemingly a planned maneuver to take advantage of the confusion during the mad rush of bills in the closing days of the session.

The main element of the bill allows legislators to base their legislative pensions on the average of their highest three years of taxable income in local or state government jobs after (or before) their legislative service.

Roll Call provided a few examples of how it worked:

Rep. Harry Moberly, had a second pension at KERS, but he dropped that plan so he could enroll in the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System -- not as a legislator -- but as an Eastern Kentucky University employee.

This means Moberly's legislative pension will be based on his university salary, not his legislative pay. As a result, his legislative pension from serving part-time as a member of the General Assembly for 25 years will be at least $168,000 a year, a lifetime increase of around $2.4 million.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo's four years as attorney general boosts his legislative pension about $1.1 million

Sen. David Boswell's four years as commissioner of agriculture boosts his legislative pension about $700,000

Former Rep. Joe Barrows' Homeland Security job, which he started last month, will boost his legislative pension about $850,000

Former Rep. J.R. Gray's $136,000-a-year job as secretary of the Labor Cabinet boast's his legislative pension about $1.8 million -- all for working three years.

UPDATE: In 2010, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, Damon Thayer and Jack Westwood introduced legislation that would have undone HB 299. (RS10 SB 51, scored on our 2010 Legislative Scorecard) Additionally, Representatives Brad Montell, CB Embry, Brent Housman and Tim Moore introduced HB 54, a more ambitious piece of legislation that would have completely closed the legislative pension plan and put legislators on a defined-contribution plan. House leadership killed both bills.

Who are the heros and who are the culprits among current officeholders?

These are the legislators who happily never supported HB 299 in 2005:

Rep. Royce Adams (D); Sen.* Joe Bowen (R); Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R); Rep. Dwight Butler (R); Rep. Mike Cherry (D); Rep. Hubie Collins (D); Rep. Jim DeCesare (R); Rep. Bill Farmer (R); Rep. Melvin Henley (D); Sen.* Jimmy Higdon (R); Rep. Dennis Keene (D); Rep. Jimmie Lee (D); Rep. Stan Lee (R); Sen. Bob Leeper (I); Sen. Vernie McGaha (R); Rep. Tom McKee (D); Rep. Rick Nelson (D); Rep. Fred Nesler (D); Rep. Darryl Owens (D); Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo (D); Rep. Tanya Pullin (D); Rep. Rick Rand (D); Rep Tom Riner (D); Rep. Jim Stewart (R); Rep. Tommy Thompson (D); Rep. Tommy Turner (R); Rep. Jim Wayne (D); Rep. Brent Yonts (D)

Those in bold not only voted against HB 299 originally, but also voted for SB 51 in 2010 to repeal it.

Then we have legislators who supported the bad 2005 HB 299, but at least have since voted to undo it:

Sen. Tom Buford (R); Sen. Carroll Gibson (R); Sen. Ernie Harris (R); Sen. Alice Kerr (R); Sen. Dan Seum (R); Floor Leader Sen. Robert Stivers (R); Sen. Damon Thayer (R); Sen Jack Westwood (R); Senate President David Williams (R); Sen. Ken Winters (R)

These legislators are the ones who supported this awful legislation originally, and didn't vote on SB 51 in 2010.

Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D); Rep. John Arnold (D);Rep. Tom Burch; (D)Speaker Pro-Tem Larry Clark (D); Rep. James Comer (R); Rep. Tim Couch (R); Rep. Jesse Crenshaw (D); Rep. Ron Crimm (R); Rep. Mike Denham (D); Minority Caucus Chair Rep. Bob DeWeese (R); Rep. Ted Edmonds (D); Minority Whip Rep. Danny Ford (R); US Representative Brett Guthrie (R); Rep. Jim Gooch (D); Rep. Derrick Graham (D); Rep. Keith Hall (D); Rep. Dennis Horlander (D); Rep. Joni Jenkins (D); Rep. Tom Kerr (R); Rep. Charles Miller (D); Rep. Lonnie Napier (R); Rep. Marie Rader (R); Rep. Jody Richards (D); Rep. Steven Riggs (D); Rep. Steven Rudy (R); Rep. John Will Stacy (D); Rep. Susan Westrom (D)

And these are the Senators who not only voted for HB 299 originally, but voted against repealing it in 2010!

Sen. Walter Blevins (D); Sen. Julian Carroll (D); Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D); Sen. Ray Jones (D); Sen. Gerald Neal (D); Minority Leader Sen. R.J. Palmer (D); Sen. Joey Pendleton (D); Sen. Jerry Rhodes (D); Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D); Sen. Tim Shaughnessy (D); Minority Caucus Chair Johnny Ray Turner (D); Sen.* Robin Webb (D)

The asterisk '*' indicates current Senators who were members of the House of Representatives at the time.

From Kentucky Roll Call:

The 2005 "reciprocity bill" enriches legislators so much it makes the 1982 "greed bill" pale in comparison. And it handed the office of the governor a new tool that he and all future governors can use to sway legislators on votes and even to resign their seats, as former Sen. Charlie Borders did last month.

In short, the bill has changed the dynamic of legislative politics -- and lobbying. Recently, a source told me, "A lot of legislators have asked the governor for jobs."

April 26, 2011

How Federal Regulations Lead to Higher Expenses for Everyone

While it is more likely a reaction to currently low relative prices for natural gas, it is an interesting development in coal-powered Kentucky.

Louisville Gas and Electric Co. and Kentucky Utilities are making initial plans to retire coal-burning units at three aging power plants within five years, including the Cane Run station in western Louisville.

According to long-range planning documents filed late last week with the Public Service Commission, the other two plants that could shut down coal-fired operations by 2016 are KU's Green River plant in Central City in Western Kentucky, and KU's Tyrone station in Versailles, which has already been mothballed temporarily.

The utilities also note the increasing regulatory effort to end the use of coal in the US.

In the utilities' latest joint Integrated Resource Plan, updated every three years and made public by the PSC on Friday, the companies' experts call for adding three times as much electricity-generating capacity from cleaner-burning natural gas as the utilities retire from coal.

They say the new power mix is what will be needed to keep their rates as low as possible amid tightening environmental regulations, even as electricity demand grows.

In all, 979 megawatts of coal-burning capacity would be retired in 2016, while the two utilities would add 2,721 megawatts from natural gas -- though it's not clear yet where the new gas turbines would be. The utilities currently produce about 8,000 megawatts of electricity, the document says.

What's this change mean for citizens?

Customers could see their rates rise as much as 20 percent to accommodate the conversion, Whelan said.

Kentucky Shorts Pension Responsibility by $1 Billion Annually

The Pew Center on the States released its latest report on the unfunded pension liabilities in the states. The Pew Center's actuaries totaled a gap of $22 billion for Kentucky which equals 266% of Kentucky's annual (FY 2011) budget.

The $22 billion is broken into two parts: $14.5 billion in unfunded pension obligations, and $7.5 billion in unfunded retiree health care obligations.

The report also notes that Kentucky's unfunded gap is growing.

Pew's actuaries found that Kentucky only funded 58% of the necessary contribution to pensions in FY 2009, and only 33% of the necessary contribution to health care in FY 2009.

This is tragically ironic, because FY 2009 immediately follows the commitments made in the Extraordinary Session of 2008 to adequately fund pensions going forward. We knew it was a false commitment, and the funding pledge was immediately undone.

The Pew estimate is a conservative one. Their actuaries estimate that the required contributions to meet our obligations are nearly $1 billion annually for pensions and health care obligations. Each. Annually.

The state would have to dedicate an additional $1 billion to this obligation to fund it adequately. That represents 12% of the FY 2011 budget. This is a crisis, and must be addressed by real reforms, not just commitments to do better in the future.

Congressional Quarterly Credits Club for Growth for Spending Cuts and the BBA

The national Club for Growth keeps on pressing for fiscal responsibility in Washington.

Today's CQ gives the Club for Growth credit for pushing spending federal spending cuts and the BBA:

Club Takes Notes On Budget Votes
CQ Weekly, 4/25/11
By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff

Just before the spring recess, a faction of House Republicans came close to victory on a fiscal 2012 budget pushing spending cuts even deeper than the resolution offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan , R-Wis. The alternative budget drafted by the Republican Study Committee nearly succeeded before party leaders worked the floor to switch enough votes to defeat the plan, 119-136. (Most Democrats voted "present.")

Much of the credit for the strong showing went to the Club for Growth, a group of anti-tax, small-government evangelists who sometimes back primary challenges to Republicans the group doesn't think are conservative enough. Club president Chris Chocola had staged a blitz in favor of the plan offered by the most conservative wing of the House GOP.

April 25, 2011

Grimes Petty, Hates Being Associated With 37% of Kentucky Voters

At least that's the impression we were left with after viewing this myCN2 Politics report:

Beshear Sells Old Planes, Tall Tales

Governor Beshear announced that the state will sell two really old airplanes on eBay.

Governor Steve Beshear today announced plans to sell two aircraft from the Commonwealth's air fleet as a part of his ongoing Smart Government Initiative (SGI). Selling the aircraft is a cost-saving action the Governor will take as a result of SGI, a top-to-bottom yearlong examination of state government operations and processes to find additional opportunities to save taxpayer dollars and make state government more efficient.

He goes on to claim:

"Today I to continue my efforts to make Kentucky government efficient and lean by putting these two planes up for sale on eBay," said Gov. Beshear. "However, this is about more than selling these two planes. Since taking office, I have cut more than a billion dollars out of the state budget, and created the smallest state government in a generation. In the coming months, I will continue to announce further efficiency measures developed by my Smart Government Initiative in order to ensure the smartest use of taxpayer dollars."

Which is complete nonsense.

At no time during this governor's tenure has the state government been smaller than it was in 2005. Here's a chart from Beshear's budget office:

State Expenditures 2011

He may have cut $1 billion, but spending's already budgeted to return. He hasn't saved any spending; he's done nothing. And the only measure by which he ever "created the smallest government in a generation" is by measuring the lifespan of rats!

Holsclaw Announces Platform

Republican candidate for Governor Bobbie Holsclaw recently announced her platform, to help us identify why she was actually running for the office. It is a solid effort that does not differ greatly from the other Republican candidates, and makes only a few questionable proposals.

Here are the highlights.

  • TAXES - Like Williams and Moffett, proposes reforming the tax code by lowering or eliminating income taxes and shifting to a more consumption-based system.
  • LARGE TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS - Supports tolls to build large new transportation projects.
  • ENERGY - Supports coal and expanding nuclear, unclear proposal to create comprehensive new environmental laws and regulations to exploit 'unconventional' natural gas.
  • EDUCATION - Like other candidates, supports charter schools and other school choice.
  • HEALTH - Will push for Medicaid block grant, but doesn't propose any particular action for the state to use that authority. Proposes sensible effort to create dialog among all health professions about improving rural access.

She also advocates EXPANDED GAMBLING, although she rightly recognizes it's limited revenue impact. She discusses supporting the horse industry, but doesn't mention using the expected revenue for the horse industry in any specific way.

The unusual part of the agenda, which we don't agree at all with, is a proposal to use revenues from tolls to fund a large corporate giveaway fund:

We propose a Major Investment Fund to lure big projects to Kentucky. For example in the 1980s, Kentucky was able to offer $300 million in incentives to Toyota, a good investment. Since then, we haven't had the funds to operate at that level, while Indiana and other states have brought in new auto plants with incentive packages for far less than that.

We'll get back in this game, by putting some of our savings into this fund as we reduce state government costs. We'll also use some of the financing tools from the new toll way projects, when permitted by law, to supplement incentive packages.

April 22, 2011

Ken Blackwell Talks the EPA And Coal

In a recent Op-ed, national Club for Growth board member Ken Blackwell wrote about the EPA's job-killing efforts in Ohio. If you substitute "Kentucky" for "Ohio" and "Bluegrass" for "Buckeye", this op-ed is about Kentucky.

Unfortunately, everyday Americans may not realize the impact of the EPA's "train wreck" of new regulations on jobs, the economy and price of essential energy until it's too late. The truth is, even the EPA itself doesn't quite know what these regulations might cost to implement - although various outside analysts seem to agree that, at minimum, the 10 major rules that the EPA issued in 2010 could cost the economy at least $23 billion and nearly one million jobs.

No one can say for sure how Ohio will be impacted; we do know that Ohioans will not fare well. That's because coal generates close to 90 percent of net electricity in Ohio and energy consumption in the state's industrial sector ranks among the highest in the nation. Put another way, the EPA's "train wreck" will destroy Ohio's main electricity source.

According to analysts, this assault on Ohio's coal-burning power plants transfers directly into at least 10 plant shutdowns - from North Bend to Beverly - and over 1,000 job losses. According to the United Mine Workers of America, national job losses associated with the closure of EPA-targeted coal units could be significant, amounting to more than 50,000 jobs in the coal, utility and rail industries. With Ohio's unemployment rate still above 9 percent, the EPA "train wreck" would clearly be a major blow to our state.

But the bureaucrats in Washington and the environmental groups intent on stopping the use of coal in America aren't worried about these good-paying, blue-collar jobs in Ohio. Unfortunately for us, they consider the EPA's "train wreck" to be an effective means to an end. An end to coal for sure.

Read the entire article here.

UPDATED: Fundraising Numbers Are in. Here's a List

Here are the fundraising totals top to bottom. The fundraising leader for each race is bolded.

UPDATE - All candidates have now filed quarterly reports with KREF with the exception of Hilda Legg who is delinquent. She provided estimates to the media which are marked with *** before her name.

Candidate(s) Office Total Raised On Hand
Beshear-Abramson Governor (D) $4.7 mil $3.3 mil
Williams-Farmer Governor (R) $1.2 mil $0.7 mil
Adam Edelen Auditor (D) $417,605 $328,762
Todd P'Pool Attorney General (R) $352,132 $305,647
Alison Grimes Sec. of State (D) $303,283 $256,384
James Comer Agriculture Comm. (R) $180,695 $152,758
Jack Conway Attorney General (D) $129,858 $115,047
B.D. Wilson Agriculture Comm. (D) $127,450 $57,007
***Hilda Legg Sec. of State (R) $119,000 $100,000
Moffett-Harmon Governor (R) $100,774 (-$174)
Elaine Walker Sec. of State (D) $100,420 $78,769
K.C. Crosbie Treasurer (R) $52,860 $48,834
Todd Hollenback Treasurer (D) $48,009 $33,303
Addia Wuchner Auditor (R) $35,049 $23,337
Rob Rothenberger Agriculture Comm. (R) $31,555 $16,260
Stewart Gritton Agriculture Comm. (D) $28,820 $10,692
Bill Johnson Sec. of State (R) $23,116 $3,389
Holsclaw-Vermillion Governor (R) $22,774 $15,289
John Kemper Auditor (R) $19,327 $5,673
Robert Farmer Agriculture Comm. (D) $15,914 $8,687
John Lackey Agriculture Comm. (D) $10,265 $1,395
Steve Hamrick Treasurer (D) $7,110 $777
David Williams Agriculture Comm. (D) 0 0

Kentucky Worst-Run State in The Country

It's old news by now, but we hadn't mentioned it here:

Kentucky is worst run state in the nation. The best financially managed state? Wyoming. And which state has the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line? Arkansas.

These are just some of the findings from 24/7 Wall Street's comprehensive study of states' financial management. The rankings were based on a number of metrics including unemployment rate, debt per capita, home price change between 2006 and 2009 and median household income.

The study also found that Delaware (home to many financial services companies) has the best credit rating in the country. California has the worst credit rating (no shocker there.) And Texas is home to the lowest percentage of high school graduates over age 25. Meanwhile, South Carolina and Nevada see the most violent crime than any other state in the country. (Unfortunately for those folks in Nevada the state has one of the highest percentages of people without health insurance.)

24/7 Wall Street comes to this conclusion about its rankings: "Well-run states have a great deal in common with well-run corporations. Books are kept balanced. Investment is prudent. Debt is sustainable. Innovation is prized. Workers are well-chosen and well-trained. Executives are picked based on merit and not 'politics.'"

Check out the list for a few surprises like California coming in as a runner-up for the worst run state in the country. Thanks to Kentucky's overall terrible performance, Governor Schwarzenegger can sleep well knowing someone else is doing a worse job.

April 21, 2011

Dem. Ag. Commissioner Candidate Wants to Stand Up for Obama

Here's an election-losing proposal in a state carried by John McCain in 2008:

Lackey began his talk by telling attendees he was not going to go on about his experience and qualifications because they were all listed on a handout he provided and most everyone knew him by now. He instead took time to rally for support for President Barack Obama. He told attendees he believes Obama's policies are right and the Democratic party needs to stand up for him.

Interestingly, despite Mr. Lackey's strong support for the president, he trails most of his primary opponents in fundraising.

Outside Group Begins Radio Ads for Moffett

The Western Representation PAC is set to begin running radio ads for gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett. Curiously, they say they will run them in the "western part of the state" which is where relatively few registered Republicans live.

From myCN2:

The one minute ad asks listeners to reject "establishment politicians" that have run the state into the ground financially. But it does not specifically name Williams or Beshear by name. It ends by asking voters to support Phil Moffett during the primary and touts its endorsements as well as endorsements by two Kentucky tea party groups that Moffett has received.

You can hear the radio ad here: wrpac-kentucky1.mp3

April 20, 2011

What the Survey USA GOP Poll Says About the Tea Party

One thing we found interesting about the Survey USA poll we discussed Monday was that it supported our ideas about the make-up of the Tea Party and the story behind Rand Paul's primary victory in 2010.

The Courier-Journal/WHAS11 poll sampled "507 likely GOP primary voters" and asked them whether their view of the Tea Party was favorable, unfavorable or neutral. Of the GOP primary voters, 60% hold a favorable view, 11% unfavorable and 26% neutral.

(Of the 1589 "likely November voters," views for the Tea Party were more evenly split: 35% favorable, 36% unfavorable and 26% neutral.)

WHAS11 compared the GOP primary preferences of the GOP primary voters in general and the preference of those who view the Tea Party favorably.

If the Kentucky Republican primary for governor was held today, the ticket of Senate President David Williams and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer would easily win the right to face Democratic incumbent Governor Steve Beshear (D), according to a new WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll of likely GOP primary voters.

Williams/Farmer 49%
Moffett/Harmon 14%
Holsclaw/Vermilion 12%
Undecided 25%
Margin of error +/- 4.4%

Yet, Republican primary voters who identify with the Tea Party and its message of attacking the debt and taxes, overwhelmingly support the Williams/Farmer ticket, by an even wider margin than the entire GOP voter pool.

Tea Party voters
Williams/Farmer 53%
Moffett/Harmon 16%
Holsclaw/Vermilion 10%
Undecided 21%
Margin of error +/- 4.4%

Unfortunately, this is poorly worded. Voters were not asked whether they identify with the Tea Party, only if they hold a favorable view of it. GOPers can like the Tea Party without feeling themselves a part of the grassroots movement. They are also wrong about the margin of error, which increases in this smaller sample.

Still, it is worth noting that voters who favor the Tea Party are more-engaged -- the Tea Party movement is an active element of the GOP base and it is demonstrated by fewer undecided in the sample -- and the results are the same within the margin of error.

These results prompted Jake at Page One Kentucky to ask:

Strange watching Phil Moffett trail David Williams' 49% at just 14%. And among tea folks, Williams gets 53% and Moffett just 16%. Entertaining or puzzling?

The Tea Party and Rand Paul

Tea Partiers in Kentucky are proud of their contributions to Rand Paul's successful campaign in the GOP Senate primary in 2010, and they should be. They were great grassroots support and an asset to his efforts.

But Paul's success was due to his ability to raise funds and campaign on his ideas, making them appeal to the broad swath of the GOP establishment that "favors", or even is "neutral" to the Tea Party. Those of us actually involved in the Tea Party only make up a portion of the 60% of this sample.

Williams, Moffett and the Tea Party

Moffett clearly has strong support among those active in the Tea Party. It is demonstrated empirically at rallies, on the internet and among his endorsements. In a low-turnout primary, the enthusiasm of this group will likely become a disproportionate share of the vote and result in Moffett outperforming the polls, but not enough to make up this deficit.

This poll shows us that the Tea Party is bigger than the Tea Party, and even Tea Partiers need funding to get their message out.

OK Governor Fights Obamacare, Rejects Obamacare Grant

Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma is fighting the implementation of Obamacare in her state, rejecting an "early adoption" grant:

Fallin, more so than her counterparts in Wisconsin and Kansas, came under harsh criticism for accepting the funds. Oklahoma State Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman announced late last month that he would not hear a bill to authorize a health exchange, which the Oklahoma House just barely approved and Fallin had lobbied for ardently.

"Unlike the federal exchange Washington may try to force on us, the exchange we are trying to build offers a positive, free-market alternative to the big government, tax-and-spend plan that is the PPACA," Fallin wrote in a late March letter to state lawmakers, asking them to pass the bill.

Now, Fallin says her state will still pursue a health exchange -- but forgo the $54 million federal funding opportunity it was set to receive.

"We have addressed concerns expressed by implementing strict safeguards to prevent the implementation of the federal health care exchange while definitively laying out the framework for a free market-based network that will empower consumers by providing a place for individuals, families and small businesses to shop for affordable, quality health insurance plans," Fallin said.

Kentucky was not a grant recipient.

April 19, 2011

Beshear Raises, Spends Lots of Money

The Beshear-Abramson campaign not only leads at the polls, but raised an additional $1.27 million this quarter. This brings their fundraising grand total to $4.8 million, but they've apparently spent $1.5 million of it.

The re-election campaign of Gov. Steve Beshear campaign took in $1.27 million in the first three months of 2011, according to Beshear campaign manager Bill Hyers.

That would bring the campaign's total to nearly $4.8 million. That would leave Beshear and his running mate Jerry Abramson with $3.3 million cash on hand, Hyers said.

"I am grateful for the support of Kentuckians of our hard work to bring economic recovery and prosperity to every community," Beshear said in a statement. "Though I remain focused on creating jobs and running an efficient and lean state government, I am nevertheless pleased with the campaign's fundraising success."

He's already spent more than 30% of his campaign funds without even starting serious advertising, which is the predominant expense of any campaign. Looks like he spends his campaign funds like he spends our tax dollars.

Wuchner Endorsed by Bunning

Rep. Addia Wuchner, a one-time Kentucky Club for Growth-recognized Defender of Economic Freedom was endorsed in her race for State Auditor by former US Sen. Jim Bunning, a national Club for Growth Defender of Economic Freedom himself.

Secretary of State Elaine Walker Creating Another New Spending Program We Can't Afford

NOTE: Noticed the bad link in the email. The Survey USA data was from April 17, and the post is here.

In her latest newsletter, Sec. Walker describes her efforts with 'civil discourse' hypocrite Dr. Buck Ryan to create a new spending program proposal for the 2012 legislative session:

We've started prepping for next year's legislative process. For example, we worked closely with Dr. Buck Ryan, his students at the University of Kentucky, and students from Lexington's Christ the King Middle School and Tates Creek High School to begin the process of drafting a civic education bill for next session.

We are jumping to conclusions. It could be the aim of this legislation simply to create new educational mandates. Either way, less unencumbered money for the classroom.

April 18, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Part I Debuts in Kentucky

If you haven't already heard, Atlas Shrugged is now a feature film and available for viewing in Kentucky.

Here's a note from one Kentucky conservative's review:

The heroes in the story aren't looking for fairness. They are looking to compete. They are looking to create better solutions to problems faced. They are willing to take a chances on new ventures. They are the heart of capitalism. Capitalism isn't about glorifying wealth, it is about celebrating and rewarding the people who create. It elevates them because they are the ones who are truly moving society forward. They are the ones creating jobs. They are the ones creating wealth. Wealth not only for themselves but for people around them.

Atlas Shrugged Part I introduces us to this compelling battle between the doers and the collectivists. In the process it introduces a fascinating philosophical question. What happens if the producers decide the battle isn't worth it? What if they give up? What if they decide to strike?

Atlas Shrugged is not a action movie. It is not a love story. It is not a comedy. It is a serious philosophical look at some of the pressing issues of the day. It is riveting because it illustrates the folly of collectivism and the destructive future it represents. Heck many of the quotes from the movie could be taken from many of the political arguments of today. For this reason, I believe this movie has the potential along with the Tea Party to be one of the seminal events in the political battle of our age.

To read the rest of Brian's review, chick here.

To find theaters in Kentucky, click here.

Kentucky 9/12 Publishes Book

An important element of the Tea Party in Kentucky is the 9/12 organization. Over the past two years, the 9/12ers have organized political discussion and grassroots support for conservative policy and candidates in Kentucky.

Now, they've published a book about their influential two-year History.

We Surround Them
Our Journey from Apathy to Action
Authored by J Eric Wilson
Authored with R Justen Collins

The 9/12 Project began all across America, in homes and communities, on March 13, 2009. Twenty months later, the grassroots organization that was formed that day has grown to include millions of members and has changed the lives of each and every one of them. Its motivation is simple and profound: to inspire and unite our countrymen back to the place we were on 9/12/2001-the day after the attack on our nation. On that day, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder, unconcerned about our different religious beliefs, skin colors, or political parties. We were united as Americans to protect our nation and the patriots that make it the greatest country in the world.

Exploring the human side of the movement, this diary-style work is full of hope, insight, and the surging power of individuals choosing to make a difference. These vivid firsthand accounts provide an opportunity to do more than just read a group's history, but to live their sacrifices and accomplishments along with them. Promoting personal responsibility, We Surround Them: Our Journey from Apathy to Action is the inspirational story of the Kentucky 9/12 Project's members, their successes and failures, and the indomitable spirit of Americans unafraid of learning who they truly are as they restore the principles and values on which this country was founded.

Find out more here.

Tax Day Facts

Just like our boated tax code, Tax Day is now Friday, today and tomorrow! (Maybe Friday was Tax Day - traditional, today is Tax Day - observed and tomorrow is Tax Day - official?)

Here are some facts to annoy you about our unwieldy, bloated government.

  • I want you to consider that the date means absolutely nothing to 47% of US households as they will pay zero in federal income tax. - ZeroHedge.com
  • Today's national debt--the public debt that government has accumulated to finance its out-of-control spending--is approximately $14.3 trillion. To put that into perspective, the government's annual budget for 2011, which is in itself bloated, is roughly $3.7 trillion. And to put the future health of our economy in perspective, President Obama proposed in his 2012 Budget proposal that we add $9 trillion to that debt over the next ten years. - Heritage.com
  • The budgetary burden of the IRS, which is a staggering $12.5 billion. This is the money we spend to employ an army of tax bureaucrats that is larger than the CIA and FBI combined. - International Liberty
  • In 2010, the federal government collected about $2.2 trillion in total tax revenue. Income taxes accounted for $900 billion of collections, or about 40 percent of all tax receipts. The federal government spent around $3.5 trillion, with the resulting deficit of $1.3 trillion made possible by borrowing.

    If Congress, rather than borrowing or cutting spending, raised income taxes by the $1.3 trillion necessary to pay for 2010 deficit spending, it would need to more than double income tax collections.

    For a family of four earning $50,000 that takes the standard deduction, its current tax bill of $766 would increase by almost $4,000. A similar family of four that earned $75,000 a year would see its tax liability of $4,500 increase by over $9,000 a year. If the same family earned $100,000, it would pay more than $15,600 above the $8,800 it actually paid in 2010.

    The top rate in this depressing scenario would be 85 percent! A top tax rate at that level would grind economic activity to a halt. - Heritage.org

New Survey USA Poll Released, Williams Leads Primary, Beshear Leads General

WHAS11 and the Courier-Journal released new polling yesterday, showing that the Williams-Farmer ticket leads the Republican primary by a significant margin, and that Beshear-Abramson tops the 50% threshold if the general election were held today.

If the Kentucky Republican primary for governor was held today, the ticket of Senate President David Williams and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer would easily win the right to face Democratic incumbent Governor Steve Beshear (D), according to a new WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll of likely GOP primary voters.

Williams/Farmer 49%
Moffett/Harmon 14%
Holsclaw/Vermilion 12%
Undecided 25%
Margin of error +/- 4.4%

While it is always misleading to compare polling from different sources, this poll might suggest some gains for the Moffett-Harmon ticket versus polling the Williams-Farmer Campaign released in early February. That poll had Williams-Farmer at a similar 47%, Holsclaw-Vermillion at 10%, but Moffett-Harmon only at 7%.

Because turnout for a primary can be very low, the intensity of support for the non-frontrunning candidates could actually pull this margin closer, but with nearly 50% of the vote and a healthy fundraising advantage, Williams-Farmer should feel confident about this result.

The SurveyUSA polling also matched all three Republican tickets head-to-head with Beshear-Abramson, finding Beshear leading all three with a majority of the vote, and a floor for the Republican ticket of 34%.

The leading Republic ticket, Williams-Farmer, reached the 39% mark, near the 41% level received by Fletcher-Rudolph in 2007.

General Election
1589 Likely Voters
Beshear/Abramson (D) 51%
Williams/Farmer (R) 39%
Undecided 10%
Margin of error +/- 2.5%

General Election
1589 Likely Voters
Beshear/Abramson (D) 53%
Holsclaw/Vermillion (R) 34%
Undecided 13%
Margin of error +/- 2.5%

General Election
1589 Likely Voters
Beshear/Abramson (D) 54%
Moffett/Harmon (R) 34%
Undecided 13%
Margin of error +/- 2.5%

In 2007, numbers never budged much beyond the 40% mark for the Republican ticket against Beshear. Beshear's fundraising edge (and lack of a primary) will allow him ample opportunity to define himself and his opponent, and discredit the Republican ticket before they have an opportunity to begin defining him. It is an uphill battle for any opponent of Beshear-Abramson.

April 14, 2011

Herald-Leader Compares Breathing to Slavery

A forgotten fact: the US has reduced CO2 emissions per capita since 2000.

In the mind of Herald-Leader editorialists, this apparently equates to the evil of slavery:

Just as we look back 150 years and wonder how our ancestors justified slavery on economic grounds, our descendants will wonder how, knowing what we know about climate change, we resisted sacrificing even a little for their future.

"What we know about climate change" is not enough. What we know about CO2 emissions is that the US has limited our emissions through whatever mechanisms already exist.

The metaphor seems a gross trivialization of slavery.

April 13, 2011

Lex Mayor Jim Gray Channels Scott Walker and Unions Love Him

It really is bizarro world in Lexington. Mayor Jim Gray has outlined a budget for the city that balances by cutting 10% of spending and making some politically tough calls:

According to the Herald-Leader, Gray's proposed budget would, among other proposals:

  • Lay off workers in four divisions of city government: seven in government communications, five in parks, five in social services and 11 in building security, for a total savings of $1 million a year.
  • Abolish 215 vacant positions in city government. Personnel costs, which make up 65 percent of the General Fund budget, would be reduced by $11.8 million. The city's work force would shrink from 3,078 full-time positions in 2011 to 2,835 in 2012, the smallest since 1999.

    Gray said his proposed personnel reductions would create a ratio of one employee to 104 city residents, compared with one employee to 120 residents in Louisville.
  • Close all city swimming pools on Mondays and permanently shutter two underused pools, Berry Hill and Constitution, and close Meadowbrook Golf Course, which loses about $80,000 a year.
  • Move toward a cost-of-service model for employee health care to save $3.5 million a year. Consultants have been working since March to revamp the city's health plan, which had a $9.9 million overrun in 2010 and faces a projected $12 million loss in 2011. Without changes, the plan would go over budget by $14 million in 2012, Gray said. He did not go into detail, but Gray said employees would be expected to shoulder more of the cost of their health insurance.
  • Save $5.6 million in police, fire and corrections collective bargaining contracts, plus $3.1 million through a variety of other means, including eliminating unscheduled overtime in the fire department and not filling vacancies.

    "Our negotiations with unions just didn't adequately factor in the long-term financial health of the city," Gray said.

    He also said there must be "permanent changes in the benefits" offered to future employees in those departments, otherwise, "we will never catch up."

Changing public employee benefits. Requiring greater health contributions. Firing employees. Reopening collective bargaining agreements! The public employee unions must be up in arms!

Jim Gray is Scott Walker and Lexington is the next Wisconsin!

Or not. We don't remember the last time an employee association said of lay-offs "we're grateful there weren't more."

Pam Brandenburg, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents more than 600 city employees, said she was grateful there were only 28 layoffs proposed.

"Mayor Gray has had to make some tough decisions, but I believe he has been fair and above board," Brandenburg said.

And

Chris Bartley, president of the firefighters union, said he did not take Gray's call for savings from collective bargaining with police, fire and corrections as a threat.

"Not as long as we've got a seat at the table," Bartley said. "That's what collective bargaining is all about: hammer out a deal."

Jim Gray must have them under his spell. But good for him and good for the taxpayers.

April 12, 2011

Williams-Farmer 2011 Releases First Television Ad

One week after the Williams-Farmer campaign released their first radio ad, they've followed-up on television:

April 8, 2011

Louisville Tea Party Endorses Auditor Candidate John Kemper

In other endorsement news, the Louisville Tea Party has endorsed John Kemper in the State Auditor's race.

"John Kemper is a true fiscal conservative, who supports the Louisville TEA Party's mission of fiscally responsible policies, lower taxes, and Constitutionally limited government," the group said in its endorsement.

Kemper faces State Rep. Addia Wuchner in the Republican primary, and possibly Democrat Adam Edelen in the general.

As Casinos Crush Horseracing In US, Turfway Bucks Trend with Innovation

In March, thoroughbred wagering continued to slide, despite higher purses in the US:

Wagering on Thoroughbred racing in the United States continued its overall slide, according to monthly figures release Monday by Equibase.

Betting was down almost 10 percent, or $99.4 million, for March, with slightly fewer race days. But purses were up 6 percent, almost $4.5 million.

Year to date, betting was down 8.5 percent, or $230 million, while purses were up 5.32 percent, or almost $10 million.

Even though some states are maintaining higher purses through casinos and other sorts of gambling, it has only continued decline for thoroughbred wagering as casinos continue to take gambler's attention.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Turfway Park in Florence has innovated with Saturday Night racing, increasing revenues on on-track wagering, off-track wagering and food and beverage services despite a slight drop in purses:

"I am tremendously excited by these numbers," said Bob Elliston, Turfway Park president and chief executive. He said switching the Saturday post time from 1:10 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. seemed to be a key factor.

"We saw definite increases in our food and beverage business and in on-track simulcast handle on Saturday evenings, but we are still evaluating the overall impact of the change," Elliston said in a news release.

Despite a slight drop in average daily purses, Turfway was able to attract horses: Average field size held nearly steady at about 8.5 horses per race.

April 7, 2011

Beshear Will Launch First Radio Ad

So says MyCN2:

Although he's running unopposed in the May Democratic primary, Gov. Steve Beshear will launch his first campaign radio ad this week, Pure Politics confirmed.

Beshear, however, declined to discuss the commercial or details about it to reporters after a speech in Boone County on Tuesday.

Foolish Talk of "Civil Discourse"

We have written in the past about how partisanship is a necessary element of political discussion, and how universal legislative agreement is rarely a sign of good policy:

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.

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.

This session, we saw bi-partisan and bi-cameral agreement as SB 110 whipped through the legislature. What universally admired legislation was SB 110?

SB 110 - Optometrist Surgery Bill

This bill simply would allow non-physician optometrists to perform surgical procedures on your eyes.

Credit for "civil discourse" here goes to the Kentucky Optometrist Association, who clearly know how to work the political process.

A more rancorous debate maybe would have drawn more attention to, say, the opposition of the Kentucky Medical Association, but three cheers for a civil discourse!

That's what Buck Ryan, director of the Citizen Kentucky Project of UK's Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, says he wants:

I woke up from this bizarre dream about Kentucky Senate President David Williams. I was moderating a Citizen Kentucky public forum on how to fix Medicaid with Williams, Gov. Steve Beshear, House Speaker Greg Stumbo and representatives of various stakeholders.

...

Then the most amazing thing happened: We engaged in public deliberation toward meaningful problem solving through civil discourse.

How bizarre is that?

If you have any hope of turning such a dream into reality, then please join us Thursday, at the University of Kentucky to celebrate legislative success on civic education, to enjoy a conversation with the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities on his national "civil discourse tour" and to help kids refine their Henry Clay-Sandra Day O'Connor Civic Education Act for Kentucky.

Of course, Mr. Buck doesn't really believe in such nonsense himself. Even he couldn't refrain from throwing in a joke insulting the Senate President for his actions in the recent legislative session:

Williams turned to an old Woody Allen skit from The Ed Sullivan Show to explain what happened in the special session:

"I was confronted on the schoolyard by two bullies," Williams said. "So the first thing I did was punch Greg right in the fist with my eye. Then I whacked Steve hard in the knee with my groin."

The crowd went wild with laughter...

We guess in Mr. Buck's ideal world, conservatives wouldn't stand up for their principles, and special interest legislation would never be challenged. Isn't that a lovely dream in his head?

Probably Tip of The Iceburg for State Pension System

Attorney General Jack Conway has ruled for the taxpayer on an open records case against the Kentucky Retirement system:

Kentucky Retirement Systems must publicly disclose its employees' salaries, Attorney General Jack Conway's office said Tuesday.

KRS oversees $13 billion in assets to provide benefits for state and county retirees. Although it is a public agency, it refused Feb. 10 when state retiree Eva Carroll-Smith of Frankfort filed a request for its "current payroll records" under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

"All the other state employee salaries are posted online. It wasn't clear to me why this one agency should not have to disclose the size of its salaries," Carroll-Smith said Tuesday. KRS told Carroll-Smith her request was "unduly burdensome." Additionally, KRS cited a state law shielding certain information about individual pension accounts and said it prohibits disclosure of KRS salaries.

Who wants to bet that we'll find some of the salary information out of line with reasonable expectations?

April 6, 2011

Stumbo Forgets Precedent and Taxpayers on Pay Issue

There is no question that this special session of Kentucky's legislature has been a disaster.

Governor Steve Beshear was wrong to call the special session.

  • There was nothing agreed upon when the session was called. Instead of completing the session in five days, five days passed before any legislation was even considered by the House.
  • The ultimate result - the House passing the Senate language and adjourning so the Governor could veto his way into an unbalanced budget - could have happened the exact same way in the regular session.

The special session is just one more example of the Governor's bungling management.

The only remaining issue is whether legislators will be paid for the period between the House's adjournment on March 25th and the Senate's likely adjournment today.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is obstinately refusing to relinquish payment for this period in which he indisputably did nothing for Kentucky's taxpayers.

In a Tuesday letter, Stumbo said he did not think that the legislature had "the authority to stop paychecks from being sent to individuals constitutionally required to receive them." Stumbo suggested that the General Assembly request an opinion from Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, on whether the legislature can suspend its own pay.

...

Stumbo said late Tuesday that he still believes that an attorney general's opinion on the issue is needed. In his letter, Stumbo said that he is concerned that someone may file a lawsuit challenging the legislature's authority to suspend its pay.

Greg Stumbo seriously believes some citizen might sue to make the taxpayers pay legislators for a period in which no work was preformed. And even if they did, what elected member of the court would find that the LRC did not have authority over itself as a coequal branch of government. It is a preposterous concept.

Meanwhile, there is ample precedent that the LRC does have the ability to determine legislative pay schedules:

Williams, in a letter dated Tuesday, said the leaders of the House and Senate had agreed not to receive pay in the past -in 2001 and 2007 -- and it would only take Stumbo's signature on a directive to the Legislative Research Commission and the "'issue' of legislative pay after March 24 will immediately disappear.'"

Robert Sherman, the director of the Legislative Research Commission, said Tuesday that no lawmaker has been paid for days after March 24.

It only takes agreement from Williams and Stumbo to determine that no pay will be given for this veto period. If legislators are paid, it is entirely Stumbo's will.

Senate Returns to Session Today, Will the House?

All that will probably happen today when the Kentucky Senate returns to session is that the Senate will make some maneuver to indicate their interest in overriding the Governor's vetoes and adjourn. The Senate will not be able to actually consider the Governor's vetoes, because the Governor must file vetoes of HB 1 with the House of Representative and the House is not in session.

For a primer on the potential circumstances of a Constitutional showdown, see our post here.

To summarize, since there is no question that the General Assembly has not adjourned, Constitutional language suggests that the Senate could force the House to return if it remains in session for two more days.

If the Senate chooses to press the issue and force the House to return on the 8th, the House Rules seem to suggest that if the Constitution requires the House to meet on April 8, then 15 House members are al that are necessary to take over the chamber and call for a quorum.

Such an effort would be meaningless, however, as the ten-day veto period will have elapsed after today, leaving no time for the vetoes to be overridden.

We are left with the unbalanced budget the governor has created for himself and a downgraded credit rating.

Moffett Fundraising Effort Generates $10K, Negative Press

A "Money Bomb" online fundraising effort by Phil Moffett over the last two days had generated some excitement among the conservative grassroots in Kentucky, through Twitter, Facebook and emails. The campaign had simultaneously shown momentum through the release of a number of endorsements, including some national conservative PACs, local Kentucky tea party groups and Northern Kentucky Right to Life.

In the end, however, the fundraising effort did not impress, and the earned media has been decisively negative:

Phil Moffett still facing money woes - Courier Journal

Moffett 'money bomb' bombs - GOP gubernatorial candidate struggles - Ronnie Ellis CNHI

Moffett money bomb fails to blow up - mycn2

Only the AP had a neutral headline:

Moffett's online fundraiser takes in $10,000

The biggest question about the Moffett candidacy has always been whether his grassroots support could generate financial support. Not yet.

April 5, 2011

Gatewood Makes First Official Filing, Libertarian Files for Treasurer

In case you missed it:

Two candidates filed statement of candidacy forms to run for political office as either and independent or political group candidate. Gatewood Galbraith filed his statement of candidacy form seeking the office of Governor as an independent candidate. Dea Riley is listed as his running mate.

Kenneth C. Moellman, Jr. filed as a Libertarian Party for the office of State Treasurer.

April 4, 2011

BIPPS' Jim Waters on the Importance of Responsible Budget Cuts

Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions penned an editorial in the Herald Leader that we couldn't have put better ourselves:

Legislative Research Commission data make it clear the Herald-Leader became confused about the real meaning of "savings."

Numbers provided by the LRC indicate total state spending in fiscal year 2010 -- including federal, general, road and restricted funds -- was $24.7 billion. That is a 5.3 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

And that increase occurred while revenues fell by 4.2 percent, resulting in a nearly 10 percent swing between spending and available revenues.

Reasonable Kentuckians would not consider such a gap between spending and income responsible stewardship. In fact, how long could Kentucky families increase their budgets by 5 percent per year while taking 4-percent pay cuts without getting into trouble?

Of course, Beshear gets an option that Kentucky families don't -- "stimulus" money from the federal government.

Kentucky received nearly $2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money since 2009.

Without it, the commonwealth would have been staring at $800 million shortfalls, on average, each year between what was budgeted and the amount of money available.

Also, some very worthy programs would have suffered much larger reductions than the fairly small 1.74 percent across-the-board cuts proposed by the state Senate -- just for the 2012 budget year -- to handle the current Medicaid deficit.

You should read the whole thing here.

April 1, 2011

Government Largeness Largess

Stephen Moore in the WSJ

If you want to understand better why so many states--from New York to Wisconsin to California--are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

Every state in America today except for two--Indiana and Wisconsin--has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods.

Read the rest here.

Illinois Tax Hikes Driving Out Jobs

We've written about how tax hikes in Maryland are killing jobs there and how we're grateful for the Tea Party in Kentucky for keeping Kentucky from being Illinois:

After years of papering over severe budget shortfalls, Illinois lawmakers Friday were closing in on a plan to raise the state income tax by 75 percent and refinance roughly $8.5 billion in debt in an effort to stabilize the state's finances.

In the end, the Illinois legislature hiked taxes and now businesses and jobs are looking to leave the state. Even Caterpillar, a family-run industrial institution of Illinois is entertaining offers from other states.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

In a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn, the chairman of Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. has raised the possibility of the company moving to another state because Illinois is headed in a direction that is "not favorable to business."

Governors from at least four states have tried to woo the heavy machinery company out of Illinois, and "they make compelling arguments," Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman noted in a March 21 letter to Quinn, in which he relayed how he had been called, cornered and "wined and dined'' by other states.

"Before, I never really considered living anywhere else, and certainly never considered the possibility of Caterpillar relocating," Oberhelman wrote. "But I have to admit, the policymakers in Springfield seem to be making it harder by the day."

Oberhelman did not cite specific policies he felt were bad for business, but a Caterpillar spokesman told the Associated Press that the state's recent income tax increase is an example.

For what it's worth, Mr. Oberhelman, Kentucky has a strong conservative movement from the Kentucky Club for Growth, Tea Parties and others that will fight to keep Kentucky's business environment more friendly. We hope our Governor's clever enough to be among those calling and cornering you...

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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.