Not addressing our entitlement problem

State Budget Director Mary Lassiter just told the Joint Budget Committee that Medicaid spending continues to increase but that federal “stimulus” funds will cover the excess in FY 2010.

So we’re back into the soup in 2011. The only difference is that we will be in much deeper and we aren’t doing anything about it.

Left wing think tanks: who needs them

Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities spends almost six minutes on this podcast to tell you states need to tax you more for your own good.

You can listen to the whole thing if you want, but 5:05 to 5:15 pretty much gives you what they have in mind.

It’s good stuff if you need to be able to say that a nonpartisan think tank says states need more money, but it doesn’t do much for the rest of us who watch our pennies and can’t understand why government won’t do the same.

Is your Grandma an “inefficiency?”

A health care report out today from President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers says Medicare costs could be lowered by about one-third by leveling the differences in costs per patient between the states and between the U.S. and other nations.

Looks like they are talking about little more than rationing care to me. In fact, I read the whole report looking for anything substantial and didn’t find it. Try it yourself. The closest thing to a policy suggestion is the ridiculous proposal to require insurance companies to accept all applicants with the same coverages and premiums. Some may remember Kentucky trying that in 1994.

This isn’t in the KY Constitution, either

From a Gov. Steve Beshear statement:

“We will do whatever we can as a state to ensure the viability and longevity of the (General Motors) Bowling Green Assembly Plant.”

Really, Governor? Why not send the money to Toyota in Georgetown instead? They seem to have a better idea of what to do with it.

It’s not a billion

The Frankfort tax increase brigade is on the offensive this morning with an editorial repeating the silly claim that the state has a $1 billion revenue shortfall.

This is nothing more than a marketing scheme for bigger government. If it were a real emergency, far more would be done to reduce wasteful spending. Indeed, the shortfall itself is mostly an illusion.

Predictably, the editorial quickly goes in for the kill:

“The next round of reductions will inflict real damage to programs that are critically important to many, particularly those most vulnerable during an economic downturn.”

“Given that reality, the legislature must also look at the revenue side of the budget.”

The Courier Journal may be convinced, but for those of us who look at the numbers and see a 2010 budget $867 million larger than the one in 2009, we are going to need much more than the standard poor-mouthing.

Quit whining and shrink government

Wondering what’s behind all the noise about the supposed $996 million budget shortfall in Kentucky?

It’s really not that complicated.

The General Assembly wants to spend $9.296 billion in the year beginning July 1. Economists estimate they will only have $8.3 billion. So Gov. Beshear says there is a $996 million shortfall.

The revised budget for the current fiscal year is $8.4299 billion. Will someone please explain to me why Gov. Beshear thinks he should be able to increase state government by ten percent in one year?

Rather than whining, now would be a great time to do that promised efficiency study, repeal Davis Bacon, and get a handle on school spending.

Disaster in the making

Gov. Steve Beshear has announced a special session of the General Assembly will convene June 15. Several Republican Senate members I spoke to this afternoon said no agreements about revenues, spending cuts, or hot-button issues like casino gambling have been reached.

Cook up some popcorn for this one. Should be quite a show.

Sticks and stones…

Susan Pace Hamill of University of Alabama School of Law put out a report on state and local public policy which lists Kentucky as one of the “Shameful Sixteen” states. She claims that our taxing and spending policies hurt poor people and “violate the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics.”

Read the report here.

Hamill’s grand solution, of course, is higher income taxes and more spending on public schools. Should be a popular read for Kentucky’s big-government advocates.

Wanting no part of “Medicare for all”

Lexington attorney Kent Masterson Brown went to Washington D.C. last Friday for a hearing in a very important case. If he wins, Americans will be able to opt out of Medicare.

This case continues quietly as most of our elected officials on the national level are trying to force all Americans onto “free” government insurance.

Why Kentucky needs “loser-pays”

University of Kentucky basketball rarely intersects with the public policy realm, but it did Wednesday when former coach Billy Gillispie filed a lawsuit seeking $6 million from the program.

The case should be open-and-shut. Gillispie signed a Memorandum of Understanding Offer in April of 2007 stating that if he signed a contract and was subsequently fired without cause, he would be paid $1.5 million for each remaining year of his contract.

Gillispie never signed a contract. Nevertheless, he wants a federal court to award him money as if he had. The University will wind up paying him some money just to make this case (and its inevitable legal expenses) go away.

But if the federal courts operated under a loser-pays policy, UK’s lawyers could go through the legal song and dance and then show the judge where the memorandum says its provisions only become effective after an actual contract is signed. Then Gillispie would not only go home empty-handed, he would have to pay UK’s legal expenses, too.

In the current political environment in both Washington D.C. and Frankfort, loser-pays isn’t going to get any kind of hearing. But if Wildcats fans wonder why their money will wind up going to pay off a fired coach, they should start asking questions at least about making Kentucky a loser-pays state.