Jody Richards: “We’re raising taxes, kids!”

In the ongoing saga that is Speaker Jody Richards’ reign as the most effective and creative leader in the Kentucky Democratic Party ever, the Dear Speaker has taken it upon himself to make yet another inconclusive statement to the press!

This time it’s about– what else?– raising taxes.

And Jody’s making it clear that he isn’t clear on what he is and isn’t clear on. But he knows the cigarette tax isn’t going to cut it. You know, the tax he was against before he was supportive of it.

We know, we know. It’s rare for Jody Richards to be unclear on what’s unclear to him. We digress.

From PolWatchers:

House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, has also mentioned the likelihood of additional tax boosts in recent days, saying he isn’t willing to cut the state’s education budget.

Like Moberly, he declined to offer any specifics.

Richards said a cigarette tax increase “won’t do it all. We’ve got to do some other things, too.”

Richards said he is still discovering “some surprises” in Beshear’s budget proposal, so he isn’t sure yet how much new money the House will need to generate.

Way to lead, Jody! So fearless and original. We love you!

Almost Ready to See Our Shadow Update

Millionaires who hate Democrats and the Democrats who love them. Imagine that. A non-Page One blogger dishing the dirt. They’re moments away from receiving the wrath of those opposed to the truth. Beware. [Yellow Dog via BGR]

Scrapping the run-off? The house has joined the senate with a bill to get rid of the headache Kentucky almost faced in 2007. Almost no one believes a run-off is necessary. Insane that we had the provision in the first place. [PolWatchers]

Ben Chandler and Ernesto Scorsone hate America. The two opposites of Jim Gooch were part of a forum on global warming held at the University of Kentucky yesterday. [H-L]

Pay for play politics? Surely you jest! Beshear appointed John Paul Chappell to a district judgeship just days after he gave Scott Alexander $200 for the 30th district senate race. Just a coincidence? No clue. You decide. We just hope a judgeship would sell for a lot more than $200 if that’s what’s going on. [PolWatchers]

70-cent cigarette tax proposed (instead of 30-cents that’s hot discussion these days) to ease budget constraints. Kudos to the legislature for this move! Not only would Kentucky benefit financially, but overall health would improve tremendously as Ernie Fletcher has repeatedly said. Goodbye, teen smoking! [Courier-Journal]

Delving into the political nightmares of both the Democratic and Republican parties of recent days.  Both Ron Lewis and Steve Beshear are causing drama. [Hebert]

And in case you missed our fuming a couple days ago, get up-to-date on the state domestic partner benefits ban. Welcome to the 19th century, Kentucky! [H-L]

Not the Bold Leadership We Ordered

Gov. Steve Beshear‘s budget address may have been a wake-up call for those who didn’t think things were as bad as they seemed. For others, it may have been a realization that the bold leadership Beshear campaigned on was nothing but campaign rhetoric.

There will be a $165 million cut in spending next year, and it will hit most areas of the state, save K-12 education and Medicaid. Higher education may have been the hardest hit.

U of L chief James Ramsey told the C-J: “. . . it’s going to be impossible for us to continue to move forward, and the question becomes will we be able to keep from backsliding.” UK’s Lee Todd said it will create a $50 million shortfall. Of note, this comes the day after Todd hired a VP of diversity for $210,000 a year.

But Beshear’s speech was full of those sorts of contradictions. Drastically cut spending here, but make up for it with a questionable expenditure there.

Beshear presented nothing bold last night. He preserved the funding for public schools, but said there would be no raises for teachers. And he authorized 2 percent raises (not much, but more than teachers are getting) for state employees, and said nothing about cuts to the state work force. He preserved $6 million for the Louisville Zoo and many other capital projects, and put money into the Bucks for Brains programs, but told University presidents to get by with less.

Read moreNot the Bold Leadership We Ordered

Oh Noes It’s Cold Roundup: Jake Has Returned!

David Williams calls Dan Mongiardo a bad boy. Alleging all kinds of threats toward officials in eastern Kentucky for not supporting Scott Alexander. Williams met with Attorney General Jack Conway today to discuss a possible investigation. Call us crazy but we see this going no where fast. [PolWatchers]

Speaking of David Williams, he and soon-to-be ousted Speaker of the House Jody Richards are pushing a plan to start the use of tolls to help finance Kentucky’s various bridge projects. Uh. That won’t go over too well. Taxing roadways in Kentucky? What? Have you ever driven on our crappy highways? Like anyone wants to pay for that nightmarish opportunity. [The Arena]

Hank List is back as deputy secretary of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet. The job he held from 2001-2003. List is also a former state representative and has worked for companies like the devil Louisville Gas & Electric. [Hebert]

There’s still no Democratic challenger for Stan Lee. The call for a candidate totally fell on deaf ears. Both the Kentucky Democratic Party and the House Democratic Caucus have dropped the ball. If Stan Lee is ever vulnerable, it’s now. But people seem pleased as punch to piss away an opportunity to elect a true leader. [BlueGrassRoots]

Stephen George, LEO’s excellent managing editor, turns our attention to a clip from Bill Maher’s HBO program that featured sex columnist Dan Savage reporting from the Huckabee campaign in South Carolina. Can you say hilarious? Always funny to send a scary, known homosexual to anti-gay land. Alert: put down your beverage. [General Sense of Outrage, The Stranger]

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]

More Corruption: McConnell Aide Becomes Tax Lobbyist

McConnell in a BowtieLesley Elliott, a former legislative aide to Mitch McConnell, has been hired by travel conglomerate Expedia. Why? To lobby Washington for “tax issues.”

It’s nothing new for McConnell staffers to get paid millions for knowing Mitch (remember Hunter Bates?) but is it really a good idea for his former employees to be out and about lobbying like this at a time when he’s done nothing but scream about taxation? At a time when he’s about to have the campaign battle of his lifetime?

Mitch’s bowtie must be on a little tight these days. Jeez.