Massive Economic Failure Update Dept

No cancer stick tax increase? Layoffs galore coming. Get ready for it. And an FYI to “blevins” – axing Coldiron wouldn’t save the state any money. [Bluegrass Politics]

Do southern senators really want to start a new war between the states? Kentucky gets back $1.45 for every dollar paid in federal taxes but Michigan loses $0.31 per dollar paid. Mitch McConnell should probably think twice about his vindictive mission. [Huffington Post]

More on the 8664 snafu with the state transportation cabinet. We’ll have more on this a bit later. [C-J]

Even Toyota supports a bailout for the big three. [CNN]

Aww snap. David Schankula lays out a fancy argument for why Daniel Mongiardo should leave the Democratic Party.  Something about being a fancy homophobe. [Barefoot & Progressive]

Occasionally we check out what sort of ignorance the Bluegrass “Institute” is spewing out. Now it’s some sort of tripe about the cigarette tax being a bad idea because bootleggers exist. Seriously. [Ignorant Spin]

Jim Carroll got to attend a White House dinner for media types last night and he’s written all about it. [Jim Carroll]

Some Stuff Before the Snow Storm Comes

Basically, we’re pretty sure it’s not even going to flurry or whatever. But wouldn’t it be awesome if we got rear-end-deep snow? Don’t worry, we’ll keep dreaming.

That silly Brad Cummings, Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman, and his following ways have landed him in the media once again. For his role as a Big Brother. We guess the whole being an Apple using homosexual sympathizer isn’t enough to ruin him forever! [C-J]

Republicans will lose Michigan for a generation. At least. Instead of working to find a solution, they pressed for political revenge and obstructionism. [Mother Jones]

Are you an artist in Louisville? You may want to heed this call. Ashley Cecil is expanding her team of Champions 4 Her. Visual artists who are interested in participating as a street painting facilitator. A stipend may be included! [Ashley Cecil]

Americans are not happy with Mitch McConnell and other Republicans. “Let it be known to the millions of people about to be out of work, to the millions of people who will find themselves on the wrong end of obtaining financing of any sort despite their good credit and to the millions of Americans who will have to pay billions more later when we finally do bail out the auto industry, that Senator Mitch McConnell refused to budge because his political goals were more important than an exercise of statesmanship in a time of crisis.” [NY Times]

You know you’re struggling. Would a tax cut help? [Reuters]

Kentucky’s presidential electors met and cast their votes today. On the Monday following the second Wednesday of December, as established in federal law, each state’s Electors meet in their respective state capitals and cast their electoral votes, one for President and one for Vice President. The electoral votes are then sealed and transmitted from each state to the President of the U.S. Senate who, on the following January 8, opens and reads them before both houses of the Congress. John McCain won Kentucky’s 8 (number of U.S. Senators plus the number of U.S. Representatives) votes. [Press Release]

Because we were suffering the pains of, you know, not wanting to read another press release today, we’re going to push you on Hebert. He’s got the skinny on the Governor’s Task Force on the Future of Horse Racing. [Mark Hebert]

Governer Beshear Could Be Making a Mistake

Really, using excess coal severance tax funds to help balance the state’s budget?

LOUISVILLE – Gov. Steve Beshear defended his plan Friday to divert about $17.5 million headed for coal counties to help address a $456 million state budget shortfall.

But the Democratic governor added that he was “open” to discussing the move with state legislators.

House Speaker Jody Richards and several state lawmakers and officials from coal-producing counties oppose using excess proceeds from the coal severance tax to balance the state budget.

Richards, D-Bowling Green, said it would be unfair to impact particular geographical regions of the state. Coal counties, particularly rural areas in Eastern and Western Kentucky, have come to rely on coal severance tax receipts as a major source of their revenue.

Let’s just talk about this for a second.

Has the Governor ever stepped foot in some of these counties in eastern and western Kentucky? Does he realize there’s a reason that Appalachia, in particular, is the most impoverished region in the United States?

We thought the idea of Beshear’s public tour was to make him seem more “in touch” with reality. And. Um.

What the heck are these people thinking?

Oh Snap Monday! Felner the Rainmaker

Dubya’s Final Eff You to Amurka. [Rolling Stone]

Attention Doug Hawkins: we have discovered the answer to your Mexican problem. Illegal immigrants say they’re all going back to Mexico because the economy sucks. And they say they will never return. Our white women are safe! [C-J]

Countdown proves, via a memo obtained, that this is a coordinated attack among Republicans to take down organized labor. [News Hole]

You can thank gay-hating Kentucky Farm Bureau for killing the cigarette tax increase. Not David Williams or any other Republican. [C-J]

What the heck is going on with this CentrePoint mess in Lexington? [Barefoot & Progressive]

All the mouth breathers are buying up guns like crazy in Kentucky. All because of that silly Barack Obama! Because it would be so terrible not to be able to buy assault weapons. Everyone needs a fancy assault weapon. [H-L]

Ugh. A “winter storm” is coming and Kroger is going to be empty. Look out for all the ladies wearing curlers if you have to make a grocery run today. They’ll be fighting for their lives to buy an extra package of hamburger and some white bread. [C-J]

Oh, look, known swindler Robert Felner has forced the University of Rhode Island to develop a system to better deter fraud. Felner was apparently a cult figure to staffers at URI. Weird. And he was a rainmaker. [The Providence Journal]

Trey Grayson on Beshear’s Budget Announcement

Secretary of State Trey Grayson just released a statement on Steve Beshear’s budget plan:

“I am not sure that there are any other ways to articulate that we are going to experience severe pain due to these proposed cuts. This pain should send a clear message to the Governor and Legislature that we must find a bi-partisan, long-term solution to this problem, not just a quick fix. Comprehensive tax reform that will reduce the tax burden on productivity, and thus allow our economy to grow, is the only real answer to this crisis. Until we face this fact, our Commonwealth will continue to bear these difficult decisions.”

We’re not sure “tax reform” and the “free market” are the answer to our problems right now. But one thing is certain: a bi-partisan, long-term solution to our problems is necessary. Now.

Beshear’s Plan: 70-Cent Cigarette Tax Increase

The governor’s just-released plan includes a 70-cent tax increase on cigarettes and doubles the rate of tax on other tobacco products. His plan would also protect Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK), the $3 billion in basic funding for elementary and secondary education, protect student financial aid and “limit” cuts to the rest of education at 2 percent.

The cancer stick tax increase would allegedly generate $81.5 million in a budget year. We’re surprised he actually decided to pick a side on the issue, rather than waffle like he’s done the past few weeks.

Additionally, the governor’s plan will limit state police cuts to 2 percent and preserve a new class of 60 troopers, furlough state employees to 3 days and use $40 million in one-time resources.

According to a document just obtained from the governor’s office, here are the basics of Beshear’s plan:

  • $147.1 million in spending cuts in addition to $432 million in reductions made in the last year. Under Gov. Beshear, the executive branch is the smallest it has been in 20 years, with 2,000 fewer employees than last year and nearly 600 fewer non-merit employees than under the previous administration.
  • $81.5 million this budget year by increasing the cigarette tax 70 cents, as well as increasing the tax on other tobacco products.
  • $8 million by furloughing state workers three days.
  • $40.6 million in other funds, such as transfers from restricted funds.
  • $178.9 million from the Budget Reserve Trust Fund or Rainy Day Fund, during this fiscal year. Currently, the legislature has appropriated $191 million of the $226 million fund for the 2010 fiscal year. Under Gov. Beshear’s proposal, increased cigarette tax revenues in the 2010 fiscal year – about $144 million – would be used to replenish the revenues expended from the Rainy Day Fund.

See the impact of budget cuts after the jump…

Read moreBeshear’s Plan: 70-Cent Cigarette Tax Increase

Wednesday Dept of Sinking Approval Ratings

That’s right. We’re not calling in gay today. Though, we have eleventy billion different meetings, so we’re gonna be slow. Does that count?

More people disapprove of Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning than approve. Imagine that. McConnell has a 47% approval rating, 49% disapproval. Bunning has a 43% approval rating, 44% disapproval. 4.1% MOE. Maybe Mitch’s would suck less if he actually showed leadership on this terrible bailout issue? [WLEX]

Because this isn’t really what we’d call leadership. [Wall Street Journal]

Oh, the magic. So effing magical. Go read all these fancy excerpts from the Blagojevich indictment. OMG. We are in heaven. A children’s treasury, indeed. [Wonkette]

Is T. Boone Pickens’ wind energy plan a ponzi scheme? [Alternet]

Has the state cut SAFE Patrol programs? According to the Beshear Administration, they can neither confirm nor deny.  Or refuse to, rather. WTF? What’s there to hide? [Republicans]

And three Health and Family Services ombudsmen have disappeared. No one is talking. [Bluegrass Politics]

We’re always going to wonder why the Commonwealth won’t make state workers who have take-home vehicles pay a monthly fee. But we’re even more puzzled about why the City of Louisville provides the director of the Louisville Zoo with a car. [Mark Hebert]

Really? He still doesn’t know if he’ll propose a raise in the state’s ridiculously low cigarette tax? And meeting with legislators (can’t quite call Larry Clark and Harry Moberly “leaders”) without discussing what he plans to do about the budget shortfall? Wow. It’s almost like Steve Beshear has absolutely no one on helping him on the public relations front. [Tom Loftus]

Just because, go read this story about AIG giving managers millions in bonuses. The bailout is awesome. [Bloomberg]