Non-smoking Kentuckians who think the recent thirty cent tax increase in Frankfort and the sixty two cent hike courtesy of Congress won’t affect them just haven’t run the numbers.
The Tax Foundation did, though. Using a Congressional estimate that the federal hike will lower purchase of tax-paid cigarettes (hello black market!) will fall 10% in the fiscal year starting in June, it looks like the federal tax alone will cost Kentucky almost $46 million in cigarette taxes.
More details here.
Good thing the federal tax was used to justify making government bigger, right?
If Kentucky’s tax increase has any kind of similar impact, the legislature will have to hurry back in to fix the fiscal problems caused by their last fix.
The first version, known as STI, failed some time ago.
The replacement, known as Infinite Campus, has just now become operational in all school districts – more or less. But, the start-up issues are far from over, as hearings before the Kentucky Board of Education today made clear.
One of the potentially good features of Infinite Campus is a parent portal which allows parents to check, daily if they want, on things like their child’s actual presence in class and grades. However, discussions in today’s meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education indicate a number of districts have yet to implement this feature, due in part to security concerns that the wrong parent might be coded against the wrong student.
One of the not good features of Infinite Campus is the vast increase in data entry requirements. During the board meeting, one member asked if adopting this new technology had improved efficiency and reduced labor needs. The presenter admitted that the opposite was happening, as districts were having to add staff to feed the voracious appetite of this data monster (which, among other things, collects a fair amount of information about whole families, not just the individual student).
One last observation came from a demonstration to the board of the features of Infinite Campus. The presenter had lots of problems logging in, first as a teacher, and in several other cases including as a state level administrator. We all know that computers can be cranky, but with at least three log-on “crumps,” I wonder if districts are having similar problems.
So, if you work with this system, let us know about problems you are having. We’ll fully understand if you log on anonymously so you don’t feel threatened.
Oh, one more point. The board heard that the annual costs for the state to operate Infinite Campus runs about $5.5 million, and that does not seem to include any district or school level support costs like those extra programmers. But, Infinite Campus isn’t ready to support longitudinal data tracking, which is needed under the new SB-1, so up that cost by another $1 million at least.
– Sort of
The Kentucky Board of Education launched a new Public Comments Segment in its meeting today, but this decent idea needs more thought.
The rules published in the meeting agenda said those desiring to speak had to sign up before the meeting began. Since this meeting start was at 8:30 AM, anyone who does not live in Frankfort and wants to speak to the board has to get up awfully early – or come into town the day before.
The agenda also made it clear speakers would not actually get to speak until after lunch. In fact, the state board didn’t get to this agenda item until nearly 2 PM. That’s a de-motivator to speak.
From 8:30 AM on, the board talked about a number of issues that might not have been of particular interest to the citizen speakers. Still worse, the board went into a closed session to talk about the hiring of the new education commissioner around 11 AM, as scheduled in the agenda. After that closed session, the board took an hour for lunch – leaving the citizen speakers to cool their heels for two hours after the sign-up deadline. That’s an even bigger de-motivator.
These de-motivating factors may explain why only two speakers showed up, and neither really fits the mold of a general member of the public. One spoke for the School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Committee, which is a state organization. The other was the president of the Kentucky Council of Economic Education, a group that advocates for teaching economics in our schools.
So, Kentucky Board of Education, here are some suggestions for next time.
Don’t require citizen speakers to cool their heels for five hours or more. If the hearing will be after lunch, why not allow sign-ups until the end of your lunch break? Don’t lose this good idea.
There have been more than a few eyebrows raised by the Kentucky Senate’s failure (refusal?) to confirm Steve Neal, The executive director of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, as a member of the Kentucky Board of Education. However, maybe that was the legally appropriate thing to do.
There aren’t a large number of restrictions on who can serve as a board member, but one of those, contained in Kentucky Revised Statute 156.040 stipulates that a board member shall:
“Not be directly or indirectly interested in the sale to the Kentucky Board of Education or the Department of Education of books, stationery, or any other property, materials, supplies, equipment, or services for which board or department funds are expended.”
As the executive of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, which represents teachers in discussions about the services they will render for the wages received, it certainly seems like Mr. Neal would have to run afoul of this provision.
Perhaps someone in the Senate agrees.
In any event, the governor isn’t fighting the senate on this development, and a new nominee is promised in the near future. Hopefully, that person won’t pose any problems with statute.
Just as Walgreens and Ford announced free market solutions for customers facing temporary financial difficulties today, federally controlled General Motors had to come along and spoil the mood.
Walgreens will give unemployed and uninsured customers limited services at no charge in their in-store health clinics. Louisville has eight such clinics. Ford will cover car payments for customers who lose their jobs.
And if silly government regulations like certificate of need and federal price-fixing of health services weren’t in the way, medical providers like Walgreens could offer more to their customers who are down on their luck because of the economy — and those who are just victimized by bad government healthcare policies.