The Cato Institute has put out a new State Legislative Guide. It’s designed to help state policymakers address issues in a manner that expands individual liberty, promotes free markets and reduces the size of government. It’s worth a look.
Yesterday, three US Senators introduced the Medicaid Improvement and State Empowerment Act designed to provide states with more flexibility to manage and run their Medicaid programs.
Senators Tom Coburn (OK), Richard Burr (NC), and Saxby Chambliss (GA) sponsored the bill. In a statement, Sen. Burr addressed the problematic nature of the current federal-state balance:
“States have a proven track record of being able to adopt innovative solutions to improve patient care. By giving them more control over their own Medicaid programs, we are allowing states to innovate and better meet their needs and, most importantly, the health care needs of their patients.”
By providing states with more flexibility and the incentives to manage their programs effectively, the Senators believe states can improve Medicaid outcomes and contain costs. You can view a summary of the bill here.
As we know all too well in Kentucky, a large matching rate from the federal government and program expansion do not necessarily lead to better care of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizen. Without changing the incentive structure, states will continue to spend without restraint and without real attention to improving effectiveness.
The United States government is now at its borrowing limit. In order to continue to make interest payments on debt, the federal government is considering some short-run borrowing from federal government workers’ pensions. Many federal workers, after hearing about this plan, may decide to rush into retirement earlier than anticipated:
About 550,000 full-time career federal government employees and U.S. Postal Service workers could hang it up and move on at any time because they are currently eligible to retire, according to government statistics obtained Thursday. The eligible workers represent about a quarter of the 2.4 million permanent full-time employees collecting government or postal paychecks.
It illustrates one of the problems of a government-run pension system where outflows are determined in part by the decisions of thousands of individual participants: you can’t make disruptive changes in the system without potentially affecting short-run outflows. That means the program itself is subject to a constraint that may not be built into actuarial models.
The actuarial models used in relation to Kentucky Retirement Systems, thankfully, typically assume that when a worker retires that they take full advantage of just about every benefit offered and will maximize their pension and then retire. That is, they make fairly conservative assumptions about the retirement timing decision of the average worker.
But in Kentucky, like the federal government, workers can retire early and thus begin collecting pensions (albeit smaller pensions) at a younger age. A decision en masse by Kentucky’s government workers to take early retirement would devastate KRS’s finances in the short run and could obligate taxpayers (through the General Assembly and county governments) to far larger pensions payments in the short run. That’s why I argue that any reform of the pension system should not affect the decision environment for current workers who participate in KRS’s programs.
Governor Steve Beshear‘s office posted a press release today outlining some tax break incentives granted to a rail company for expanding their operations in Kentucky. The press release states that the expansion will create 75 new jobs.
New jobs are great, especially given Kentucky’s unemployment rate.
This does bring up a couple of questions though:
- What businesses in Kentucky are not receiving these tax incentives for expansion?
- In an effort to make the Commonwealth as business friendly as possible, why don’t we just extend these “tax incentives” to every business operating in the the state?
A recent Supreme Court decision justified warrantless entry by police officers into a person’s home if illegal drug activity is merely suspected. This was an 8-1 decision.
Interestingly enough, the case that was heard came out of Lexington, Ky. According to USA Today, this is what happened:
Officers had entered the breezeway looking for a man who sold crack cocaine to an undercover informant and then fled. Police heard a door slam, but did not know which of two units the suspected dealer had entered. A marijuana odor was coming from one of the doors.They knocked on that door, announced they were the police, and, hearing noises, broke down the door. They found Hollis King, defendant in Monday’s case, and two other people inside with marijuana and cocaine. (The dealer police had chased was in another apartment.)
This is troubling. Granted, the defendant was involved in illegal activity, but does this justify disregard for the 4th Amendment?
Should police officers be allowed to enter someone’s private property without a warrant? Does this set a dangerous precedent?