It’s amazing that ten weeks have passed without Kentucky’s mainstream media even mentioning the reporting of Kentucky Affordable Prepaid Tuition’s $35.7 million actuarial shortfall for 2008.
If we had government transparency, we wouldn’t need to depend on the Lexington Herald Leader and the Louisville Courier Journal to report on failed, well-intentioned state programs.
And if our politicians had an incentive to think through ponzi schemes like KAPT rather than just signing taxpayers up for another ride because it sounds good, we would save a lot of money.
Thanks for reading the Bluegrass Policy Blog in 2008. Please resolve to inspire those close to you to pay attention to the issues in 2009. We are going to need many more people tuned in fast if we are going to hope to turn things around here.
In the 2008 General Assembly, Gov. Steve Beshear couldn’t get approval for the casinos he promised to get nor the twenty five cent cigarette tax he promised not to seek.
Today, even the Wall Street Journal knows Beshear has upped his ante (even if they can’t spell his name):
“Kentucky Gov. Steve Bashear would raise cigarette taxes from 30 cents to $1 per pack.”
It’s an interesting article in the WSJ about revenue-enhancing tactics to expect from the states. Read it here.
The Republican Senate has no motivation to give Beshear his tax increase. And despite Beshear’s best efforts, House leadership, the state’s two biggest newspapers, and every rent-seeking interest group imaginable, neither do many of the rank-and-file members of the House. Tax increases and spending bills require support of three-fifths of the members of each chamber in each odd-numbered year.
Beshear’s best chance to keep his head above water without infuriating government-dependent activists is to just borrow the money. And that is surely the route he will take.
Thank your children.
Cutting spending on nonessential government programs remains the only way to not have to repeat this whole ridiculous exercise again next year.
Given Kentucky’s natural beauty, moderate climate, central location, and hard-working people, bringing new business into the state should be as easy for the govenrment as cutting taxes, cutting spending, and getting out of the way.
Someone tell Barack Obama that Kentucky is going to need a little extra bailout money for the glossy photographs.
You probably won’t read about Humana’s latest dirty trick in the Kentucky media because it happened in Dayton, Ohio:
“Dropping this little bombshell at the end of the year makes it nearly impossible to move Humana insureds to other carriers by the first of January, leaving them vulnerable to out-of-network charges at the height of cold, flu and accident season.”
“This is unconscionable.”
You can read the whole story by clicking here.
The usual suspects will respond to this with some variation of “See, government should be in charge of healthcare decisions and this wouldn’t happen!”
But government has more than it can handle nationalizing banks and car makers and cities and states to pay much attention to the healthcare system — fortunately. So a market solution may have a chance.
Kentucky could protect its citizens from Humana by blasting the company to bits. But that would just empower Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield to do something similar.
Actively encouraging more insurers to come into the state and giving them more freedom to meet customer needs is the only way.
Something like 2007’s SB 135, which went nowhere back then, could help bring in more competition.
Kentucky’s painful experience has shown us the damage a power-mad government can do to healthcare consumers. Empowering firms to self-regulate by maintaining vigorous competition is the best way to go.
President Harry Truman once famously complained about economists who described certain courses of action and then gave rationale for the opposing course (“on the other hand…”) by exclaiming “Give me a one-handed economist!”
Readers of the Louisville Courier Journal might have a similar wish after reading token conservative columnist Jon David Dyche rip Gov. Steve Beshear.
“As a gubernatorial candidate, Steve Beshear opposed higher taxes, claimed to possess the experience and leadership skill to pass expanded gambling, and promised to conduct a comprehensive efficiency study of state government that would save $150 million to $180 million. As governor, Beshear supports raising cigarette taxes 70 cents per pack, has apparently abandoned efforts to expand gambling and is silent about savings from any efficiency study.”
Then Dyche does a 180 and advocates for the same thing Beshear wants:
“His proposed increase will produce much-needed money for state coffers in the short term while reducing smoking, improving health and thus saving significant sums on state-sponsored medical care in the long term.”
“Slots at tracks would also generate millions for much-needed drug rehabilitation programs, state prisoners in county jails, problem gambling treatment, environmental cleanup and education.”
Dyche makes the same mistake tax-and-spenders always do when coveting a new or expanded revenue source — they spend it all and then wonder where their next fix is going to come from.
The simple fact Dyche overlooks is that Kentucky state revenue is up, it just isn’t up enough to pay for all the excessive spending. The problem, and all the solutions, are to be found on the spending side.