Papaw Prepares For The Retirement Home

And we’ve found the perfect gift for him… [CLICK THE CLICKY]

With his days dwindling as Kentucky’s governor, Democrat Steve Beshear took time Tuesday to tout his eight years in office and reflect on his regrets of making “no meaningful progress” in tax reform and not bringing expanded gambling to the state. [H-L]

Bobby Who? Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday. [HuffPo]

The local prosecutor’s office is asking Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens to recuse himself from every criminal case that comes before him, citing comments the judge made on his Facebook page that calls into question his impartiality, the commonwealth argues. [C-J/AKN]

The British Government has announced that it plans to shut down all of its coal-powered fire stations by 2025, with restrictions put on their use as early as 2023. [Gizmodo]

Heck yes alcohol sales bring in revenue for communities. Rob Fogle is the co-owner of Mammoth Liquors, located at 101 Gardner Lane in Cave City, along with Eric Hall. The two also own a liquor store in Radcliff, which saw take-home liquor sales approved by voters in 2011. [Glasgow Daily Times]

President Obama would love the chance to run against Donald Trump, but his family — and the Constitution — are standing in his way. [The Hill]

Only one bid was submitted to the Rowan County School Board for the central office building at 121 E. Second Street. Morehead State University submitted the lone bid of $2 million. [The Morehead News]

They share a small two-bedroom apartment in Sacramento with few possessions, but for Syrian refugee Mohammad Abd Rabboh, his wife and two daughters, there is finally freedom from fear. [Reuters]

A Berea College student told the city council Tuesday night that pickup trucks flying Confederate flags have frequently driven around the campus the past three months yelling racial slurs at them. [Richmond Register]

Ninety minutes into the first day of his first job, Day Davis, a 21-year-old temp worker, was called to help out near a machine at the Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Florida. He was killed before making it to his first break. [ProPublica]

Jennifer Stepp is proud her son is in recovery from his heroin addiction, but if he ever needs it, her 8-year-old daughter knows how to administer the drugs that would save his life. [Ashland Independent]

Friday’s terrorist attacks have made the Paris climate talks “even more” important now, according to Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). And on Sunday, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders elaborated on why climate change remains “the biggest national security threat facing the United States,” after remarks he made in Saturday’s Democratic debate were criticized by people who apparently don’t understand the existential nature the climate threat poses to this country and the world. [ThinkProgress]

The water tower in Lebanon is about to get a new mural that should make it very popular on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The tower will be graced by a bottle of bourbon, making it look like the world’s largest Maker’s Mark pour. The city’s 135-foot water tower will be getting a mural by internationally recognized muralist Eric Henn, who will paint it to look like the neck of a gigantic bottle, complete with signature red wax, is pouring bourbon straight down. [H-L]

A Scottish newspaper offered a warm message to Syrian refugees arriving in the country this week. “To the first refugees fleeing war-torn Syria who will arrive at Glasgow Airport today, we’d just like to say: Welcome to Scotland,” read the front cover of The National on Tuesday. [HuffPo]

How Many Friends/Donors Will He Pardon?

Fayette County schools superintendent Manny Caulk has hired a Kentucky Department of Education associate commissioner with 18 years of experience in state government to oversee the district financial services, budget and staffing, and human resources departments. [H-L]

President Barack Obama is accusing Republicans who oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. of being scared of widows and orphans. He says the political posturing “needs to stop.” [HuffPo]

Louisville area Ford workers on Tuesday resoundingly rejected a proposed national contract. [C-J/AKN]

In 2012, GOP presidential candidates accused President Obama of waging a war on the coal industry. Three years later, coal is largely taking a back seat in the Republican race for the White House. [The Hill]

The Kentucky School Boards Association is all up in the latest Jefferson County Public Schools controversy. On the one hand, people who serve their time ought to be able to give back to society and hold down gainful employment. Especially when they’re as honest and forthcoming as this woman. On the other, JCPS looks stupid for getting into mess after mess like this. [KSBA]

U.S. consumer prices increased in October after two straight months of declines as the cost of healthcare and other services rose, evidence of firming inflation that further supports views that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month. [Reuters]

Gov. Steve Beshear hinted Tuesday he’ll restore voting rights for many non-violent ex-felons before leaving office on Dec. 7. [Ronnie Ellis]

Hillary Clinton’s top deputy will be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to continue the campaign’s outreach to African-American Democrats. [Politico]

Kentucky earned a “D” on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, and Warren County’s preterm births are worse than statewide rates. [BGDN]

Poverty does not treat men and women equally, especially in old age. Women 65 years old and older who are living in poverty outnumber men in those circumstances by more than 2 to 1. And these women are likely to face the greatest deprivation as they become older and more frail. [NPR]

Gov. Steve Beshear and state librarian Wayne Onkst said in federal court filings late last week that the state will recognize as valid marriages of couples who received altered licenses issued by the Rowan County clerk’s office. [Ashland Independent]

The federal privacy law known as HIPAA doesn’t cover home paternity tests, fitness trackers or health apps. When a Florida woman complained after seeing the paternity test results of thousands of people online, federal regulators told her they didn’t have jurisdiction. [ProPublica]

On Friday night around 7 p.m., while the world looked on in horror as terrorists in Paris made flesh our collective nightmares, Rand Paul took to Twitter. With uncertainty, fear and carnage gripping the globe, Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator, in the cellar when it comes to presidential polls, was focused — on Marco Rubio. [H-L]

After a series of attacks in Paris by the Islamic State group killed 129 people on Friday, several prominent Republican politicians called for the U.S. to stop taking in refugees from Syria, arguing that authorities might unwittingly allow terrorists to enter the country. [HuffPo]

Refugee Freakout Continues For Racists

Gov. Steve Beshear launched a program Monday to help Kentuckians move from a life of drug abuse and addiction to one of sobriety and productivity. [H-L]

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Tuesday there was “no data” to support the notion that the national debate over the use of force by police has made the country less safe, an idea that has sometimes been referred to as the “Ferguson effect.” [HuffPo]

Just what Kentucky’s working poor need! Once they lose access to health care, they can pay more taxes for the crap that Greg Fischer and his rich daddy want to build and/or destroy. [C-J/AKN]

Five ways conservative media are exploiting the terrorist attacks in Paris to hype misinformation. [MMFA]

Here’s the latest column Greg Stumbo’s LRC staffers have written for him. In the late 1990s, Gov. Paul Patton rolled out a simple but effective campaign summarized by two words: “Education pays.” [Floyd County Times]

Refugees aren’t just slipping into the US. Screening takes two years, and it’s nearly impossible for people to pass. [Vox]

The situation is under investigation by the state department of corrections but the jailer says what happened is just another sign of how bad the drug situation is. [WKYT]

Confusing refugees with terrorists is morally unacceptable and, as a matter of strategy, misguided. [NY Times]

Copper thieves are responsible for a power outage that affected nearly 1,500 Kentucky Power customers in Pikeville Monday night, including the local hospital. [Hazard Herald]

Australia’s Carmichael coal mine project has been under major scrutiny by large conservation groups and prominent Australians for months. Now, progressive think tank the Australia Institute has found just how damaging the emissions from burning coal at the mine could really be. [ThinkProgress]

The Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen released the 2014 audit of the former Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird’s office on Friday. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

Fields along the Mississippi River Delta once gleamed white in the autumn with acre upon acre of cotton ready to be picked. But to see the decline of a cash crop once nicknamed “King Cotton” one need look no further than the 300 acres (121 hectares) that Michael Shelton farms in Clarksdale, Mississippi, about 75 miles (120 km) down river from Memphis. [Reuters]

A new mobile activity center that will educate students about agriculture will be on the road to eastern Kentucky after the first of the year. [H-L]

Astronomers have spotted what they believe is the most distant object in the solar system — a dwarf planet floating some 9.5 billion miles from the sun. [HuffPo]

Papaw Beshear Paints A Rosy Picture

Any time a governor leaves office, they’re obviously gonna gloat. Jones did it, Patton did it, Fletcher did it. And Steve Beshear is doing it.

His legacy, according to his office, is the faux façade of façades. He’s taking credit for everything under the sun. Reality is he should probably only be taking credit for one thing: improving Kentucky’s health care situation.

So let’s dig into the massive email blast his staff sent out yesterday.

The intro:

Governor Steve Beshear summed up the impact of his eight years as Kentucky’s chief executive today with a single phrase: A stronger core.

“Generations from now, Kentucky will be more competitive economically and our people will have a higher quality of life because of the hard work we’ve been doing to strengthen Kentucky’s core,” Gov. Beshear said.

The Governor said he came to Frankfort in late 2007 determined to restore the people’s trust in state government, to bring common sense to an out-of-control state budget, and to end the acrimonious partisan warfare that was interfering with good decisions.

Then the global recession hit, and like governors across the nation, Gov. Beshear said his top priority became helping Kentucky families and businesses “survive.”

“But survival wasn’t enough,” the Governor said. “I wanted Kentucky to emerge from the recession not shell-shocked and shattered but able and ambitious, poised to do great things. And so we also took aim at fundamental weaknesses that have held this state back for generations.”

To address those weaknesses, Gov. Beshear built numerous partnerships that focused on building a more competitive workforce; getting children off to a better start in their lives and their educational careers; improving the health of Kentucky’s people; attracting new businesses to the Commonwealth and helping existing businesses expand; improving Kentucky’s education system, from preschool to college; and investing in infrastructure that would pay off, years from now.

“These efforts weren’t quick fixes but were part of a long-term, multifaceted strategy that has helped Kentucky gain incredible momentum,” the Governor said.

He praised the many leaders, agencies and organizations who partnered with his administration, saying Kentucky’s needs brought together leaders in the public and private sectors, in urban and rural areas, across partisan lines, between the legislative and executive branches of government and between state and local elected bodies.

But in order for Kentucky’s long-term strategy to work, the Governor said, “we need to hit the accelerator – not the brakes.”

To call attention to Kentucky’s rapid improvement over the last eight years and the need to sustain that progress, Gov. Beshear released a “baker’s dozen” of Kentucky’s greatest successes.

Puppies! Rainbows!

Now, to the individual things for which he’s claiming credit:

  • Reducing the number of Kentuckians without health coverage from 20.4 percent to 9 percent (according to a Gallup poll): Taking advantage of the “big solution” offered by new federal health programs, Gov. Beshear helped bring health coverage to over half a million more Kentuckians. The expansion of Medicaid eligibility and the creation of a state-based Health Benefit Exchange called kynect (deemed the most successful in the nation) have been enabling Kentuckians to access lifesaving preventive care in record numbers and is already having an impact on some of Kentucky’s most stubborn health problems, such as obesity, smoking, cancer and heart disease, as shown by the year-end progress report of the kyhealthnow initiative. It also brought nearly $3 billion in direct payments to health providers in the first 18 months of the reform, as the health industry created thousands of jobs to provide that needed care. Kentucky moved to a Medicaid managed care system in November 2011, saving the state millions of dollars.
  • Cutting Kentucky’s unemployment rate in half: During the depths of the recession, Kentucky’s unemployment rate reached 10.7 percent. As the administration drew to a close, that rate had fallen to 5 percent and had been hovering there for months as Kentucky created tens of thousands of new jobs. And to maintain a safety net for those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, Gov. Beshear created a task force that brought together business and labor to not only maintain unemployment benefits throughout the recession but also created a plan to put the bankrupt Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund on the path to solvency.
  • Winning the Governor’s Cup for economic development: Kentucky won Site Selection magazine’s coveted prize after finishing first in the nation for economic development per capita in 2014 – totaling 350 new location and expansion projects representing nearly 15,000 new jobs and more than $3.7 billion in new investment. Those numbers also set a state record for economic activity in a year. From January 2008 through Nov. 16, the state announced almost 2,300 new and expansion projects that will create more than 87,000 jobs when full employment is attained. The anticipated investment related to those announcements is $19.3 billion. In addition to those new jobs announced, more than 21,700 jobs were saved through retention incentives. Three initiatives helped drive that growth: A focus on exports that helped Kentucky set trade records four years in a row; a renewed emphasis on recruiting international companies and investors, including those from Japan, Germany, China, India and Canada; and the 2009 overhaul of Kentucky’s economic incentives program that so far has encouraged over $12.2 billion in investment. Gov. Beshear also created the Office of Entrepreneurship to enhance the state’s existing efforts to help startups and assist existing small businesses with growth opportunities.
  • Raising the dropout age from 16 to 18: Thanks to help from the First Lady’s Graduate Kentucky initiative, the Beshears helped persuade the General Assembly to change Kentucky’s law to encourage teens to stay in school and get a degree. It was part of an emphasis on creating more effective high schools that also included Kentucky becoming the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards for English/language arts and math and the second to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. Gov. Beshear protected classroom spending during 15 rounds of budget balancing and brought per pupil spending via the SEEK formula to its highest total in our history. As a result, Kentucky’s graduation rate has climbed to 86 percent and its college and career readiness rate improved from 34 percent in 2010 to 62 percent in 2014.
  • $194 million in construction at two-year colleges: Embracing the critical mission of Kentucky’s Community and Technical College System, Gov. Beshear proposed and got passed a historic program called BuildSmart Investment for Kentucky Competitiveness. The public-private program, which funded a high-priority building at each of Kentucky’s 16 KCTCS institutions, represented both the largest single-largest investment in the KCTCS system since its formation and the first time two-year schools were allowed to use “agency bonds” to fund construction. In the same 2014-16 budget cycle, the General Assembly acted on Gov. Beshear’s proposals to pass $418.9 million in General Fund-supported bonds and $450.8 million in agency bonds to support construction projects at the state’s four-year public universities. Total bond-funded capital investment in education in the Governor’s four budgets totaled $3.4 billion. Postsecondary education received $2.7 billion and K-12 schools received $675 million.
  • Ohio River Bridges Project: Nearly 40 years after Louisville leaders began talking about the need for a new Ohio River bridge, Gov. Beshear worked with then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, of Indiana, to figure out a way to fund not one but two new bridges and get construction started on both. The Downtown Crossing is expected to open to traffic in December. The Beshear Administration also broke ground on new bridges across Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley as part of the Lake Bridges project in Western Kentucky, completed emergency repairs on the Eggners Ferry bridge across Kentucky Lake and the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville and built the Milton-Madison Bridge. All told, some $8.2 billion in road, bridge and maintenance investment will have been issued during the eight years of the Beshear administration.
  • Converting a prison to a modern Kentucky State Police training facility: In one of the most creative “recycling” projects in Kentucky’s history, a minimum-security prison was shut down and turned into a long-needed training academy for Kentucky state troopers. The facility, which graduated its first class this year, is just one example of innovative thinking in public safety that also included converting a former state psychiatric hospital into a state-of-the-art facility for Kentucky’s medical examiner. Kentucky also slowed its tops-in-the-nation growth in prison populations by modernizing its drug laws, putting a bigger focus on treatment and developing programs to keep offenders who leave prison from committing new crimes. As a result, Kentucky was able to close a state prison and end all contracts with private prisons.
  • KentuckyWired: An ambitious plan to build 3,000 miles of middle-mile fiber infrastructure to spread high-speed broadband access to all areas of the state, beginning in eastern Kentucky, will help all Kentucky communities participate in the new global economy. Broadband will break down geographic and financial barriers to education and economic development by providing access to affordable, high-quality Internet service to connect Kentuckians to the world. It’s a key action step of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative created by Gov. Beshear along with Congressman Hal Rogers in 2013 to help Appalachia reverse the impact of a declining coal economy. Since its beginning, SOAR has received millions in federal and state funds to help with its mission. SOAR is a formal organization dedicated to action, not just talk, and it has engaged local, state and federal leaders and both the public and private sectors on projects that include the widening of the Mountain Parkway to create a four-lane highway into the heart of the mountains; setting up an office to nurture innovative new businesses and the framework for private-sector funding; expanding job training; offering low-cost home loans; improving dental care access and providing more substance-abuse treatment options.
  • 5,000 more kids in preschool: As part of his vision to give every child – regardless of where he or she is born – a chance for a promising life, Gov. Beshear persuaded the General Assembly to increase funding to allow 5,125 more low-income children in preschool. The Governor also acted to drastically improve access to basic medical and dental care for kids, to add accountability and transparency to all of our early child care facilities through the All-STARS program, and to help more kids hit the ground running in kindergarten by pushing educators, school community providers and community leaders to coalesce around a shared definition of kindergarten readiness and by developing a screener to gauge whether children were arriving at school ready to succeed.
  • Federal research lab and advanced manufacturing training center: Positioning Kentucky to remain a leader in manufacturing of cars as technology and the marketplace grow more sophisticated, Gov. Beshear pursued two key facilities. In one, Kentucky agencies and universities are partnering with federal researchers at the new Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center in Lexington. And in the other, he persuaded the General Assembly to allocate $24 million in bonds to build an advanced manufacturing training center in Georgetown that will produce workers for Toyota and other auto manufacturers. Through the KY FAME program, the Kentucky Skills Network and a new unified state career and tech ed system, Kentucky is building the advanced manufacturing workforce of the future. This will be particularly important since Kentucky – which is No. 3 again in the nation in building cars – has seen huge expansions of its Ford Motor Co. and Toyota plants.
  • Fewer “pill mills:” Seeking to bring integrity to the use of prescription painkillers and to end the scourge of abuse and misuse that was destroying Kentucky families and communities, Gov. Beshear’s administration worked with the General Assembly to pass a bill that, among other things, drove out 24 unscrupulous pain clinics who couldn’t or wouldn’t meet new requirements that they be owned/managed by physicians. The bill also reduced “doctor shopping” by training doctors to recognize abuse and improve their prescribing. Other bills focused on methamphetamines, synthetic drugs and heroin as Kentucky under Gov. Beshear has tried to reduce its drug problem. Other strategies that reach across all these efforts included greater tools for law enforcement, expansion of substance abuse services and more emphasis on education and treatment. In 2008, Gov. Beshear established the Recovery Kentucky Task Force, a 21-member panel created to ensure the continued effectiveness and financial success of the Recovery Kentucky program, which helps Kentuckians overcome chronic substance abuse and addiction, and move toward a life of sobriety and productivity.
  • Budget turnaround: Gov. Beshear inherited a $430 million midyear budget shortfall and a Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG) estimate that revenues would be $900 million less than expenditures in his first two-year budget. He’s leaving the next governor in much better shape. In July, Gov. Beshear made an $82.5 million deposit into the state’s Budget Reserve Trust Fund. On top of that, the CFG predicted in October that the General Fund will end the current fiscal year with a $242.3 million surplus and made preliminary predictions of 2.9 percent growth and 2.4 percent growth in the two coming fiscal years. A growing economy has helped the revenue side of the budget, while the expenditure side has benefited from a new attitude of “common sense.” Gov. Beshear’s staff has rebalanced the state budget 15 times, cutting $1.6 billion spending. He’s done so in three ways: with outright cuts that trimmed the state workforce to its lowest total in decades by using the Smart Government Initiative to make ongoing operations more efficient, and by addressing long-term “leaky bucket concerns” like public pension and health care for public workers.
  • Surge in bourbon industry: Thanks in part to incentives that encouraged growth, the bourbon industry in Kentucky has invested millions in distilleries, warehouses and visitors’ centers over the past eight years, spurring an international resurgence in the popularity of the uniquely Kentucky beverage. The Governor has been a huge ambassador for the bourbon industry, including its Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour and new Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. An emphasis on tourism has helped the industry expand its annual economic impact more than $2.2 billion to $13 billion. The industry has added 13,000 jobs and now supports 180,000 jobs statewide. New initiatives and attractions include the Trail Town program, the Dawkins Line Rail Trail in eastern Kentucky, the addition of Sprint Cup racing at the Kentucky Speedway, the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games and The Ryder Cup.

About those things…

Health care: He wins on that one. Expanding Medicaid to allow Kentucky’s working poor access to care is a win, no matter how hard mouth-breathers (mostly on Medicaid) scream about it. It’s changed lives, allowed people to start businesses, to keep enough money to feed their children, to live longer, to reduce stress, to walk outside without fear of how they’ll cope if they get injured or ill.

Unemployment rate: Can’t find a single person in Frankfort who believes Beshear had anything to do with the change in unemployment numbers. From slight economic improvement to tens of thousands dropping from the rolls, Papaw didn’t have a thing to do with it.

Economic development: He’s been claiming credit for private businesses making private business decisions for nearly eight years. You can be the judge on that front.

Dropout age: The legislature made that happen at a time when everybody hated Beshear. Common sense, not just political acumen, says he had little to do with influencing that.

Two-year college investment: Again, the legislature did that.

Ohio River Bridges Project: Started 40 years ago, handled by Louisville, deals cut by Louisville, project finished by Louisville. The role Beshear played: giving his friends and the friends of Jerry Abramson sweet contracts to write press releases about the project. Oh! And he can claim credit for working out the tolls that are set to make life harder for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckiana families.

KSP Training Facility: Last we checked, the KSP made that happen after a suggestion from a legislator.

KentuckyWired: Are you holding your breath? We want to… but…

Preschool: He said it himself — the legislature made that move.

Research lab: Federal agencies and Kentucky schools made that happen by getting the legislature to throw $24 million at it.

Pill mills: The legislature and law enforcement made that happen.

Budget: What was that, again about everything being puppies and rainbows? Have Kentucky’s multiple pension disasters been resolved? Has our infrastructure been shored up? Are we able to repair highways and build bridges without tolling our citizenry out the wazoo? Are school districts able to buy the books they need? Are our small towns and counties able to provide basic services without raising taxes multiple times per year? Is the Road Fund anything but a disaster? Yeah… about that.

Bourbon industry: We’re really gonna pretend Steve Beshear had something to do with the bourbon industry’s efforts to build and grow? If anything, bourbon barons like the Brown Family have shied away from Beshear and done everything in their power to work around him.

Really fun stuff.

Some good old Kentucky revisionist history.