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Ousted KBE members take stand; hospital ruse offers ‘myopic malarkey’

This General Assembly edition of Liberty Boosters and Busters begins with Kentuckians who, while neither bureaucrats nor politicians, care enough about the future of our commonwealth to take a principled stand against an unfair and destructive policy.

Liberty Boosters:

Most of the former Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) members are teaming up with the Bluegrass Institute, my organization, in a federal court challenge to newly minted Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order removing them from the body without due process and before their terms expire. Apologists for Beshear wrongly claim the governor’s actions mirror those of his predecessor, former Gov. Matt Bevin, who ended up appointing the entire board.

Bevin, unlike Beshear, didn’t throw out the largely do-nothing KBE members before their terms expired.

Instead, he followed the law, which clearly states KBE members cannot be removed except “for cause.” Bevin waited until board members’ terms expired before replacing them with successful business and educational leaders willing to challenge Kentucky’s public-education system status quo of bloated budgets, even-larger achievement gaps and hostility toward parental school choice.

Yet such an approach wasn’t Bevin’s initial tactic.

When the former governor four years ago floated the idea of stacking the KBE with additional members, legislative leaders warned him that the General Assembly would exercise its statutory right to reverse his action and return the board to its previous makeup.

Consistency demands the current legislature with many of those same leaders still in power who denied Bevin also oppose Beshear’s shenanigans, driven largely by his ideological opposition to school choice and political debt to the state teachers’ unions, who spurred his successful gubernatorial campaign.

But ousted board member Dr. Gary Houchens, who trains future school principals at Western Kentucky University, cautioned: “The state’s education system is too important to be treated like a political football every time there is a change of administration.”

Houchens also noted that KBE members who oversee Kentucky’s public schools should at least be afforded “the same protections as our teaching peers” who cannot be removed from the classroom without cause or due process.

Liberty Busters:

The majority of House Appropriations and Revenue Committee members who recently voted to fork over millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of a “partially forgivable” loan to the University of Louisville to purchase Jewish Hospital, which has financially hemorrhaged for years.

Marion Republican Rep. Lynn Bechler is himself a Liberty Booster for being the only committee member to vote “no.” Rep. Danny Bentley voted “pass,” whatever that means.

University of Louisville President Neeli Bedapudi in her arrogant disregard for the kind of unsound policy involving government picking winners and losers by funding her hospital even as many rural facilities are on financial life support, wants Mr., Mrs. and Miss Taxpayer to shiver with positivity because she’s reduced her request from the original $50 million to only $35 million.

Isn’t that special?

I wonder how those 1,000 employees at Ashland’s Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Bentley’s district feel about the use of their hard-earned dollars to bail out a failing facility three hours and 190 miles away when they discovered the day prior to the committee vote that they will lose their own jobs when the hospital closes later this year? Bentley’s asking Beshear for help as will legislators statewide representing many districts with financially struggling hospitals if Frankfort starts bailing out medical facilities.

Policymakers shouldn’t be misled by Bendapudi’s illusory and myopic malarkey about how Kentucky will suffer great damage to its research and transplant capabilities should Jewish Hospital close its doors. People in Bowling Green go to Nashville and plenty of patients in the central part of the commonwealth find their way to highly advanced University of Kentucky health care facilities.

Meanwhile, many of those liberty-busting politicians endorsing Bendapudi’s costly hospital ruse are, at the same time, bemoaning at high volume Kentucky’s budget woes.

Enough said.

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at and @bipps on Twitter.

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