Beshear Nixes State Park $$ for Horse Park Stadium

While we understand Steve Beshear’s move to fund the $30 million stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park in preparation for the World Equestrian Games in 2010, it’s still disappointing. So many wonderful state parks will miss out on much needed improvements that have been in the works for years. The state parks impacted by his move may not be as high-profile as the horse park but Governor Beshear should work to obtain funding for the projects he killed. They’re just as important to our image.

Among the park projects canceled by Beshear:

  • Lake Cumberland, conference center, $5.83 million
  • Dale Hollow Lake, lodge room addition, $5.5 million
  • Dale Hollow Lake, cottage development, $5.08 million
  • Dale Hollow Lake, Dale Hollow Pool, $4.68 million
  • Greenbo Lake, general improvements, $1.43 million
  • E.P. “Tom” Sawyer, general improvements, $1.25 million
  • Marina upgrades at various parks, $1.25 million
  • Kenlake, Cherokee Park, $1.14 million
  • My Old Kentucky Home, general improvements, $1.1 million
  • Land acquisition at various parks, $916,000
  • J.J. Audubon, museum security system, $250,000
  • Jenny Wiley, general improvements, $130,000
  • AAA upgrades at resort parks, $32,779

OMG! Jody Richards Almost Takes a Position!

The dirty liberal media is reporting that Jody Richards has changed his position on cigarette tax increases and will now push for a hike on cancer sticks in order to avoid budgetary cuts for education.

Is this a sign Kentucky could finally join the rest of the country in– if not the 21st Century– then the 20th?

Maybe?

Richards said there is growing support in his Democratic-controlled chamber for boosting the cigarette tax, which now stands at 30 cents a pack, one of the lowest rates in the nation.

Nationally, cigarette taxes average $1.11 a pack. The states bordering Kentucky have an average tax of 70 cents.

Raising the tax on cigarettes 75 cents would give Kentucky $307.6 million in additional revenue a year, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Raising this tax is good policy. Smoking is voluntary. Hiking rates would generate revenue. It’d deter people from killing themselves, as Ernie Fletcher admitted. What’s not to love? It’s not like the taxation system in Kentucky will ever be fair, so, let’s at least try to get with the program.

Rumors on the Internets: The budget & stuff

Kentucky’s Al Mohler wants to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mohler, head of the Souther Baptist Seminary in Louisville is behind the Christian “exit” from public schools and has speculated for a while– publicly– about “fixing” the gays. [H-L]

Boptrot is back. Bob Foster, an FBI investigator from the O.B. days has been hired by Jack Conway to head the Attorney General’s investigations unit in Frankfort. He’s a former head of the FBI’s Eastern District Office and was most recently head of the Transportation Security Administration in Louisville. [Hebert]

The state senate is trying yet again to improve math and science. Along with providing incentive pay for teachers to work in those fields. Ken Winters is pushing for it. Even though the KEA says pay increases are whack. Looks like more counting on their fingers ahead. [H-L]

Andy Alcock had an exclusive story last night about a middle school boy who wanted to join East Hardin Middle School’s cheerleading squad. The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, responding to a lawsuit, ordered the school to pay the parents $3,000. The settlement includes an order for the school to undergo training sessions and produce reports on its progress. The coach who cut the kid from the team is no longer there. Maybe she should have found a spot for him. [WLKY]

Bucks for Brains is screwed until the budget ordeal is over. King David Williams says so. Maybe Steve Henry could donate his salary to the program for a while like… oh, right, turns out that never happened. [C-J]

Steve Beshear still afraid to raise the cigarette tax to be in line with other states. Even though Ernie Fletcher said the current tax rate has worked well for reducing teen smoking. And even after the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids announced an increase would provide Kentucky with over $300 million per year in additional revenue. [PolWatchers]

Patronage Alive and Well?

Look, we don’t often try to legitimize Brett Hall, but this is something worthy of discussion.

The man to see is Larry Hayes, the new secretary of the governor’s executive cabinet. That’s according to the executive order #2008-011 issued last Friday by Governor Steve Beshear.

Is it such a terrible thing that all personnel actions be approved by the Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet? Or is this budget “crisis” just a convenient tool for a newly reborn Democratic patronage system? No less than a dozen Democratic legislators have written us in outrage about the matter today.

Seriously, we want your opinion.

Weekend Update… on Monday

Greg Stumbo has no regrets as he leaves office. Has a lot to say about Ernie Fletcher’s indictment, his campaign with Bruce Lunsford, the seat he’s taking from Brandon Spencer. Says it’d be “premature” to speculate on a House leadership position. We’re speculating, so, guess we’re premature speculators. [H-L]

Greg Stumbo’s also the Democratic nominee for the 95th district house seat to replace Spencer. 19,474 weighted votes for Stumbo compared to Chuck Meade’s 1,107. Republicans still have no viable candidate. Look for Stumbo to walk handily to victory. [H-L]

Ralph Long on Steve Beshear and the budget crunch: In other words we have the standard, predictable entrance of a new administration cooking the books on the backs of state employees. [Ralph Long]

John Yarmuth (D-KY3) donates his entire congressional salary to charity in Louisville. PolWatchers does a story on it. Commenters go crazy calling him a silver spoon liberal and a left-wing lunatic. We’d like to see Mitch McConnell or Ron Lewis donate their salaries to charity but we know that’s not going to happen. [PolWatchers]

Brian Smith penned a great good-bye about the Iraq Summer campaign and its successes. The group, as many haters of perceived libruls will recall, heightened awareness of Mitch McConnell’s role in the never-ending Iraqi quagmire. [BGR]

Getting upset that the Courier-Journal’s parent company, Gannett Co. Inc., is worth billions of dollars? Upset because they call McConnell out? What? This doesn’t even make sense. When will people stop with the “librul” crap? Interesting that so many people dismiss the truth as “dirty librulism” when it doesn’t mesh with their views. [Heffalumps]

Saving Health Care? Not On Your Life.

While reading John Cheves’ legislative preview on Health & Welfare one has to wonder why Governor Steve Beshear and his physician/senator running mate Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo were never pressed to provide solid plans for the state. Solid plans beyond expanding gambling, that is. (Full disclosure: We support gambling/casinos/whatever but they’re not the pie in the sky.)

FRANKFORT– One or more unlikely things must happen before Gov. Steve Beshear can honor his campaign pledge to extend health insurance to tens of thousands of Kentuckians.

The national and state economies must improve so much that extra tax revenue gushes into Frankfort. Or Congress must overcome President Bush’s repeated vetoes of an expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Or Beshear must not only cover the state’s current Medicaid deficit — $389 million for the rest of this fiscal year — but he must find money on top of that so he can afford to add people to the program.

Small wonder that Beshear’s allies in the 2008 General Assembly are counting on the clang-clang-clang of casino gambling.

Seriously. Why didn’t the voters or the press ever push Beshear to tell us just how on earth he’ll pay for everything promised? Because it sure seems to us like he can’t deliver on any promises made at any point. Beyond pushing casinos, that is.

Just wondering. Because we’re getting absolutely tired of hearing from every friend we have in the education and university system that their jobs have been cut next year. We may be in a fiscal pickle but good god. Do we really have to rape the front lines with the remnants of a rusty GOP butcher knife?