“People who call for minimum or ‘living’ wage, have never been in business for themselves or have never met a private payroll. They don’t understand that when the minimum wage goes up even by $1, that adversely impacts the costs to that business, because withholding taxes, social security and Medicare, and employer mandates such as workers compensation, unemployment compensation tax and temporary disability insurance, also all go up.” –Sam Slom, President, Smart Business Hawaii
House Bill 215, which would eliminate the use of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in Kentucky, was introduced last week in the Kentucky legislature.
The bill description in the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission’s web site says:
“Create a new section to KRS Chapter 158 to prohibit the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education from implementing the English language arts and mathematics academic content standards developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative and the science academic content standards developed by the Next Generation Science Standards Initiative; require the state board to recommend new content standards to school districts and schools after consultation with the Council on Postsecondary Education; require public involvement in standards development; clarify the authority of the local board of education to adopt standards which differ from or exceed the standards approved by the state board; clarify that the school-based decision making councils shall develop policies based upon the standards adopted by the local boards of education; prohibit state officials from ceding control of education content standards and assessments; prohibit withholding of state funds from school districts for adopting different academic content standards; amend KRS 156.070 to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information; direct the Kentucky Board of Education to require that the Department of Education and all school districts adhere to transparency and privacy standards when outsourcing data and Web-based tasks to vendors; clarify vendor contract requirements; amend KRS 158.6453 to permit a local board of education to supplement the state board-approved academic content standards with higher and more rigorous standards and require school councils to use them to fulfill curriculum policy requirements; amend KRS 160.345 to clarify school council curriculum policy authority.”
You can read one article about the bill here.
A lot of bureaucrats and labor-union bosses are in Frankfort with both hands out. Kentucky’s current spending approach on public pensions is unsustainable. Incomes are low; dependence on government is high in the commonwealth.
Join Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters as he makes the case for free markets, individual liberty and limited — and transparent — government this morning on he Leland Conway Show on Louisville’s 84WHAS at 9 a.m. Monday.
The classic main theme from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” serves as appropriate background music while perusing this column about the first week of the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
The Good: Pension reform is not dead.
After exaggerated claims about the feeble pension-reform bill passed during last year’s legislative session, I was concerned that even lawmakers supportive of additional reforms might not be willing to touch the politically toxic issue – especially during an election year.
However, Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said during a Louisville talk-radio program on the eve of this year’s session that he was going to join Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, in an effort to make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent.
“Right now, taxpayers have no idea what the pensions are for any state employee or legislator,” Thayer said.
Thayer also said shining the light on the system – thus revealing previously heretofore unknown shenanigans to taxpayers and voters – would make future significant reforms more possible.
It’s hard to imagine what good reason House leaders have for dragging their feet on making the information regarding pensions available to the taxpayers who foot the bill.
The Bad: House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has launched an all-out populist policy campaign by making a whopping minimum-wage hike from Kentucky’s current $7.25 to $10.10 an hour his legislative priority.
House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover may have been more right than even he knew, labeling the proposal a “redistribution of wealth.”
A new National Bureau of Economic Research study cites research indicating that a majority of the redistribution that occurs with forced minimum-wage increases is not from the wealthy to lower-skilled workers, which is how supporters try to sell the idea. Rather, it’s from families in – or nearly in – poverty to other workers in the same position.
In fact, forcing a minimum-wage hike on business owners causes some families to actually fall into poverty as family members lose jobs cut by employers forced to raise wages.
According to the Employment Policies Institute, 645,000 entry-level jobs were reportedly lost when Congress raised the national minimum wage by just 50 cents an hour in 1996 – and that was during a robust economy, something Kentucky certainly doesn’t have right now.
Does the House Democratic leadership really consider policies like raising the minimum wage by nearly $3 an hour the great answer to the Bluegrass State’s economic revival?
The Ugly: Anybody who believes in the freedom of speech – one of our most precious rights – must be disappointed in the way Gov. Steve Beshear concluded his State of the Commonwealth speech.
“Fueled by social media and talk radio, we’re losing the ability to listen,” Beshear said. “We’re losing the ability to treat each other’s opinions with respect and to overcome differences. My friends, we must resolve not to let that happen here in Kentucky. We must remember that we are Kentuckians first and Democrats and Republicans second.”
Are you kidding me?
This is how the governor leading a state with a tradition of vigorous political debate and the annual Fancy Farm spectacle – with its rank partisanship and where the ultimate goal is to literally shout down and find the most creative ways possible to demean your political opponents – ends his speech?
Perhaps the governor singled out talk radio and the social media because those are the entities most willing to staunchly and persistently oppose his big-spending agenda of expanding Medicaid and bringing Obamacare to Kentuckians’ checkbooks while failing to lead a genuine economic revival.
That should tell you a lot about the state of this commonwealth’s executive leadership.
(LEXINGTON, Ky.) — Should government force restaurant and bar owners to ban smoking in their privately owned establishments? Should the Legislature be allowed to trump local smoking policies? Should constitutional principles surrender to the Nanny State?
These questions will be debated Monday night on Kentucky Educational Television’s “Kentucky Tonight,” an award-winning statewide public affairs program hosted by Bill Goodman at 8 p.m. ET.
Watch the hour-long show live on KET and at www.ket.org/live.
Ken Moellman, chairman of the state’s Libertarian Party and a spokesperson with Northern Kentucky CHOICE, will join Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters in defending limited government that protects private-property rights and local control.
Supporting a centralized smoking ban out of Frankfort will be Dr. Shawn Jones, past president of the Kentucky Medical Association, and Ashli Watts, manager of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the message form at www.ket.org/kytonight. Viewers may also submit questions and comments on Twitter @BillKET, #kytonight, or on KET’s Facebook page. All messages should include first and last name and town or county.
Plan to call in during the program with your comments and questions at 1-800-494-7605.
Kentucky Tonight programs are archived online, made available via podcast, and rebroadcast on KET, KET KY, and radio.
Help the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions continue to advance freedom and prosperity by promoting free‐market capitalism, smaller government, and the defense of personal liberties. Join us!
“We are on a mission to transform public schools and equip every child with the skills and inspiration necessary to achieve their life’s dreams. We are driven by the belief that every child—regardless of background—has the capacity to learn if put in the right school environment.”
That’s just what we want in Kentucky. But, we are a long way from achieving this goal, and StudentsFirst knows it. Their new State Policy Report Card 2014 for Kentucky also says:
“Kentucky’s education policy continues to put the interests of adults ahead of the interests of students. It’s time for a new approach that puts kids at the center of education policy.”
To give everyone an idea of how Kentucky is doing with some of its hot button items, StudentsFirst just issued the second edition of its state policy report cards. This new report looks at important education policy areas including the teaching profession, parent empowerment and education governance and spending. The scores for Kentucky make it clear that StudentsFirst isn’t buying the recent claims some have made that the Bluegrass State’s public education system ranks among the top 10 states in the country.
Without question, Kentucky’s worst performance area in the StudentsFirst report is found in the “Empower Parents” section. Kentucky got a solid “F” for leaving parents (and their children) out of the education equation. Some specific examples include:
• Not informing parents when their child is placed in an ineffective teacher’s classroom,
• Kentucky having no prohibition on placing a child with ineffective teachers for two years in a row,
• No way for parents from a failing school to band together to petition for major changes in that school (a Parent Trigger),
• No charter schools with clear triggers to close any charters that fail to perform,
• No scholarship programs to help low-income students escape failing schools and
• Limited school choice in general.
Overall, the new report ranks only five states lower than Kentucky for the lack of service and support to parents and their children. The state’s lack of school choices, including the total absence of charter schools, clearly does not impress these reporters.
Not far behind the poor Empower Parents scoring, Kentucky did very poorly in the “Spend Wisely and Govern Well” section. Some of StudentsFirst’s concerns here include:
• Bureaucratic red tape and politics,
• Limited intervention in districts and schools with problems, largely along traditional lines,
• No alternative governance structures that could be used in failing schools and districts,
• Lack of Mayoral ability to move into local schools that are failing their cities,
• Incomplete fiscal transparency and accountability,
• Unnecessary, one size fits all, class size restrictions,
• Lack of staffing flexibility to meet student needs,
• No linkage of spending data to student outcomes,
• No way to change governance when resources are mismanaged and
• A poor pension system that crimps teacher career flexibility due to requirements to participate in an inflexible retirement plan where transferring teachers can loose a large part of their retirement.
Per StudentsFirst, only four states in the nation have poorer policies for spending and governing than Kentucky.
Kentucky faired somewhat better in the Teaching Profession area but still ranks only 29th in the country. The report liked the Bluegrass State’s numerous alternative programs for teacher certification, for example. We also did fairly well in the teacher evaluation area, though I think this is based on the staff effectiveness program in Unbridled Learning which is still very much a work in progress rather than a mature and stable process. On the other hand, we are not paying our teachers well (because we spend too much on other things rather than actual performance) and we have no explicit merit pay program and we do an “F” quality job of using teacher evaluations for personnel decisions such as granting tenure.
Overall, it is clear that Kentucky needs to do a lot more to insure every child is put in the right environment to meet his or her educational needs. This argues for better school choice options such as charter schools, which – aside from choice – would provide education leaders with those alternate governance structures that are so badly needed to turn around chronically failing schools.