This is the scene outside budget discussions this morning in Frankfort. Does this send the message of transparency and openness?
Bluegrass Institute calls for removal of armed guard, more transparency in state budget negotiations
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Contact: Jim Waters 270-782-2140
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Bluegrass Institute called on the state’s political leaders today to increase access to the room where critical budget negotiations are being held today.
The hallway leading to Room 131 of the Capitol Annex, where the state budget conference committee is meeting today, has been roped off with an armed guard preventing reporters from entering the room.
“Armed guards, roped-off rooms and closed blinds do not communicate transparency and openness,” said Logan Morford, vice president of transparency for the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. “If taxpayer funds are being respected and spent responsibly, then why not get rid of the ropes, blinds and guards?”
While Kentucky has taken many steps forward regarding transparency in recent years, now is not the time to go backwards, Morford said.
Reporters have been forced to watch the proceedings, which are broadcast on Kentucky Educational Television, outside the room in which budget negotiations are being held.
“One public-TV camera doth not transparency make,” said Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters. “Would politicians rushing to finish their budget work so they can get to New Orleans and watch a Final Four basketball game be content with staying home and watching the game on TV?”
The institute will provide developments on this transparency issue on Twitter (@BIPPS) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/
A recent article about Medicaid managed care in Kentucky features quotes and research by Bluegrass Institute scholar Dr. John Garen.
The article titled “Medicaid Managed Care Blues in the Bluegrass State” by Kenneth Artz is a great overview of the situation that Kentucky now faces. It is no secret that Kentucky’s Medicaid program faces significant challenges. The most notable problem is the fact that without serious reforms, the current program is simply not sustainable.
John Garen, an economics professor at the University of Kentucky and a Bluegrass Institute adjunct scholar, says that the state’s Medicaid program was unsustainable regardless of the shift to managed care.
“It’s not unlike Medicaid in other states,” said Garen. “Prices are increasing just as the numbers of eligible folks going onto the rolls are increasing. It’s been growing just a few percentage points every year, but it all adds up. With the ObamaCare mandate expected to force more companies to no longer offer employee health insurance, even more are expected to join Medicaid. This will further increase costs.
“All of this adds up to Medicaid expenditures increasing faster than economic growth,” Garen said.
Garen authored “An Unsustainable Path: The Past and Future of Kentucky Medicaid” which made numerous recommendations about how the stat’s Medicaid program could be turned around.
There’s no time to waste as this problem becomes more serious by the day!
The Environmental Protection Agency is now 0 for 3 when challenged in a court of law to defend its unilateral mandates forcing sweeping new regulations on the states. This is great news for Kentuckians as they battle for state sovereignty and the economic vitality of their most valuable natural resource.
First came Florida’s suit against the EPA. Last month, a federal judge ruled that the EPA acted without sound scientific evidence when it imposed unprecedented environmental standards on Florida’s streams and rivers. States-1, EPA-0.
Second came the “David versus Goliath” suit where an Idaho couple went all the way to the Supreme Court just for the right to contest the EPA’s threats of fines up to $750,000 per month for developing property on alleged wetlands. Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the couple has the right to defend their property from the EPA in a court of law. States-2, EPA-0.
And third, just days ago, a US District Court Judge ruled that the EPA overstepped its bounds when it attempted to retroactively veto a permit approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers for Spruce Number One Mine in Logan County, West Virginia. States-3, EPA-0.
That the EPA has such a dismal record when its tyrannical mandates are actually challenged on an even playing field is telling for Kentuckians, and should spark hope that new Appalachian energy sources won’t remain under the thumb of mid-Atlantic bureaucrats, as long as Kentuckians keep at the battle for local government and state sovereignty.
Join me today at 11 a.m. on the “Brooks & Company” radio show on Bardstown’s 1320 WBRT-AM. Listen live here.
The show, which airs each Tuesday from 11 a.m. to Noon, is hosted by Jim Brooks, editor of the Nelson County Gazette, which carries my weekly Bluegrass Beacon column each Thursday.
I will be hitting the airwaves Monday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (eastern) for another “Bluegrass Monday” segment on the Mandy Connell Show on Louisville’s 84WHAS.