Is Education Screwed In KY? Probably.

Matt Bevin excluded K-12 schools from funding cuts in an austere state budget proposal that would slash funding to Kentucky’s public universities. [H-L]

Donald Trump may be about to do something that has never been done in the modern presidential nominating era: Win a state primary without a single endorsement from a member of Congress. [HuffPo]

On Tuesday, state Sen. Gerald Neal learned that Charles Booker, his former protege who Neal defended when he lost his job with the Legislative Research Commission for appearing in an ad for Alison Lundergan Grimes, was running against him. [C-J/AKN]

Top Democrats from Michigan’s congressional delegation have introduced a bill to expand lead poisoning notifications in the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Mich. [The Hill]

The state’s minimum hourly wage would be raised to $10.10 over the next two and half years under a bill that cleared a House committee today. House Bill 278, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, would increase Kentucky’s current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $8.20 this August, $9.15 in July 2017 and $10.10 in July 2018. The increase would not apply to businesses that have a recent average annual gross volume of sales of less than $500,000. [Press Release]

Lieutenant General John “Mick” Nicholson, the current head of NATO’s Allied Land Command, has been chosen as the new commander of international forces in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Wednesday amid concerns about setbacks in the fight against the Taliban. [Reuters]

Kentucky environmental advocates are worried that budget reductions called for by Gov. Matt Bevin will make it impossible for the Energy and Environment Cabinet to perform its basic functions. [WFPL]

Donald Trump’s rivals are mocking the GOP poll leader for his decision to skip this week’s Fox News debate and deprive them of their last chance to confront him before Monday’s Iowa caucuses. [Politico]

More than 300 candidates have filed to run for office in this year’s election, including 220 for state House races. [Ronnie Ellis]

Here is some of the best reporting on, and key moments from, the on-going public health crisis in Flint, Michigan. [ProPublica]

Ashland school superintendent and former mayor Steve Gilmore told his school board Monday he will step down in June because he is seeking his previous job. [Ashland Independent]

After a Texas-based grand jury declined to indict Planned Parenthood on Monday, clearing an Austin-based clinic of any wrongdoing, GOP presidential candidates are simply doubling down on their opposition to the national women’s health organization. [ThinkProgress]

Matt Bevin’s proposed state budget includes $60 million in state bonds for a proposed $250 million overhaul of Lexington’s convention center. [H-L]

When Bernie Sanders released his universal health care plan last week, promising that most people would receive more generous insurance coverage while paying less for medical care, most policy experts said it sounded too good to be true. [HuffPo]

Get Bourbon. Budget Address At 7:00.

Kentucky officials say the state’s unemployment rate increased at the end of last year. The state Office of Employment and Training said Thursday that the preliminary jobless rate in December rose to 5.3 percent from a revised 5 percent in November. [H-L]

Hillary Clinton is wrong when she says that Medicare for all is not achievable. In fact, if she and her husband had embraced the concept in 1993, we would be nearly there today. [HuffPo]

LOUISVILLE PEE ALERT! In the wake of a public fight between its former chairman and vice chairman, the Metropolitan Sewer District board has proposed adding a loyalty provision to its ethics policy. Oh, and no tweeting during board meetings. [C-J/AKN]

Fear. The simple four-letter word that works if you want to get elected. Political professionals know that playing on people’s fears – going negative – is the way to win. [BBC]

The Perry County School Board held a special meeting on the evening of Jan. 7 to hear public comments about the recently adapted district facility plan for Perry County schools. [Hazard Herald]

At home, Julián Castro’s been spending more time reading and watching television in Spanish, trying to get his speaking skills up to speed. [Politico]

Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty announced through a press release Thursday morning that he will not be making a decision regarding the discipline of Glasgow Police Department Sgt. Michael “Mike” Burton as soon as expected. [Glasgow Daily Times]

NOAA and NASA have announced that 2015 was by far the hottest year on record globally. In fact, NOAA reports that “2015 is Earth’s warmest year by widest margin on record.” [ThinkProgress]

Citing his continued desire to provide effective, experienced leadership for Eastern Kentucky, state Rep. Rocky Adkins filed for re-election last Thursday to serve the 99th House District in Elliott, Lewis and Rowan counties. [The Morehead News]

Avoid your local teevee stations this evening and watch Matt Bevin’s budget address at 7:00 P.M. Eastern on KET. You can stream it live if you don’t have cable or can’t pick it up for free over the air. Works for outsiders, too. [KET Live]

The chairman of Ashland Community and Technical College’s board of directors is one of 16 business leaders who will lobby for more postsecondary education funding in the Kentucky General Assembly. [Ashland Independent]

Donald Trump is calling for Medicare to be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices, a policy long backed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. [The Hill]

Wondering why Lexington can’t have nice things? The Lexington Urban County Council gave final approval Thursday to a five-year franchise agreement with Kentucky American Water. It will replace a 20-year agreement that expired in April. The council voted 13-0 to approve the agreement. Kentucky American Water was the sole bidder. There was no discussion before Thursday night’s vote. [H-L]

At a time when the media’s duty to vet candidates is more urgent than ever, journalism is giving Donald Trump a free pass. Trump deploys fame for fame’s sake; taps into populist expressions of fear, hatred and resentment and shows a knack for picking fights and a braggart’s focus on the horse race. All of which allow him to play into — and exploit — every media weakness and bad habit in a chase for audience and numbers. [HuffPo]