Steve Beshear’s doing a little media tour, but it’s hard to figure out what he’s trying to accomplish.
Setting the stage for his upcoming bad budget news? Maybe. After listening to his speech this morning at GLI’s Capitol Connection event, we’re convinced his message is simply that he’s got a lot of problems and no solutions.
He spent the first half of his talk explaining what we already know all too well — the state is screwed with its $456 million shortfall, and he’s got no plans to raise more revenue. That’s right. He’s given up on casino gaming and won’t push for a cigarette tax unless he gets to a point where he really needs it. On this point, at least, the folks at our table reacted with disgust.
So, what did Beshear say? That we’ve got to get in survival mode. He thinks Obama is going to get us some infrastructure projects. Oh, here’s some good news! A lot of other states are having the same problems as we are, and some of them are in worse shape.
He’s not going to abandon families and businesses that need help, and we’re not going to hunker down and hide. We think that means he’s going to try to keep investing in education, economic development and workforce training. In short, he was long on platitudes, short on specifics. His answer to the question about a cigarette tax was so typical Beshear-ian.
“We may get there (to the point we need it), and if we get to that point, it’s an option to look at.”
Seriously. After spending 45 minutes bemoaning the state’s economy, he’s wondering if we’re going to get to the point of desperation in which we’ll need money from a cigarette tax. This from a man who campaigned on a soapbox about leadership. We don’t know about you, but waiting to see if we’re going to need it, a point at which it will be too late to do it, isn’t the kind of leadership we need.