Sunday, December 30, 2007

More budget bad news

In the last few days, Governor Beshear has announced that the deficit for the current fiscal year is now about $400 million. That is a big hill to climb and the Gov. is considering options that include a 3% cut across the board, with the exception of K-12 education.

Budget cuts are probably the only way out of this deficit. I have 2 other suggestions for the Governor that I hope he will consider.

1. Hiring freeze. News reports indicate that this is being considered. I applaud that. Say what you will about Governor Fletcher, but he did cut back on state employees by about 2000, resulting in large savings to the taxpayers. Furthermore, state services have not suffered. I hope we do not backslide on this.

2. Repeal the prevailing wage. I doubt the Governor can do this on his own, but if he can he should consider it. If he can't he should push for it in the legislature, even if it is temporary. This would result in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in savings on capital projects for Kentucky citizens.

The prevailing wage, in short, is a system where state government mandates that union scale wages be paid on public projects such as school buildings. This policy artificially inflates the costs of public projects by anywhere from 5-25%, depending on the project and who you talk to about the effect. This policy benefits labor unions and those who work on these projects. The taxpayers as a whole are the losers. I hope the Governor will consider it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Budget woes

As we prepare for a new session in a few weeks, the budget situation will be at the top of the list of issues. The House Republicans had the chance to get a briefing last week on the financial situation of the State.

First of all, as has been widely reported, there is a deficit for this Fiscal Year (which ends June 30, 2008) of around $100 million. That will have to be dealt with by Governor Beshear.

The larger problem we need to tackle is the next budget. The current Fiscal Year budget has expenditures of about $9.4 billion. The revenue forecast for the next 2 Fiscal Years are $8.8 billion and $9.2 billion. So we cannot even fund a continuation budget for the next 2 years if revenue forecasts hold up.

Hopefully there will be a real effort to scale back on the unnecessary projects and focus on fiscal discipline.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Elaynea and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Among all the excitement and visiting family and friends, please take some time to remember the reason for the season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lincoln Bicentennial

There are many big events coming to Kentucky over the next few years. Fall 2008 brings the Ryder Cup to Louisville, and 2010 the World Equestrian Games to Lexington. But starting February 9th, a year long celebration of President Lincoln's 200th birthday begins.

If you are interested in seeing the events scheduled, or more information on the greatest Kentuckian, visit

Friday, December 14, 2007

The need for help from Frankfort

Yesterday there was a Northern Kentucky Caucus meeting at the Boone County Campus of Gateway Community and Technical College. This meeting was arranged by our Caucus Chairman, Sen. Damon Thayer. There are always many requests this time of year from interested parties wanting to ask the caucus for help. This was a chance to get the caucus together and hear from everyone at once.

Most of the participants yesterday came requesting state funds. When I totaled the requests of just the capital funds, it equaled $173 million. That does not include the $21 million requested for the Gateway Urban Campus, or the over $50 million from NKU for their desperate needs of space.

Long story short, I'd love to fund all of this, but it is not going to happen. The state is in tough financial shape. This is largely (in my opinion) due to the years of underfunding the state pension system. The potential exists that all new money in this next 2 year budget could be eaten up by the pension system, just to keep our head above water according to the actuaries.

There is one project from yesterday that I would like to see funded. It is a request for a youth drug treatment center here in Northern Kentucky. Currently there is no place to a youth to go to get treatment for drug addiction. A teenager would currently have to go to Lexington or Louisville to get treatment, if they can get in at all. We need to try to get these kids turned around and make them productive citizens. Otherwise, these tend to be the kids who fill our jails and our welfare rolls. Sometimes they become the kids who break their parents hearts by passing away much too early. Many projects can show the economic benefits by increased revenue and jobs. It is hard, if not impossible to quantify money saved by turning peoples lives around, and not having them supported by tax dollars for the rest of their lives, or the cost of lost productivity.

The cost is about $2 million to build it and $1.2 million to operate the first year. According to Mary Pat Behler who presented to us yesterday, it costs about $40,000 to incarcerate a juvenile, but $12,500 to put them through treatment.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Inauguration Day

I attended the Inauguration on Tuesday. It is always nice to see the peaceful transfer of power at every level of government, and Tuesday was no exception. I had the chance, albeit brief, to introduce myself to the new Governor. Gov. Beshear said it was great to meet me and he would like to sit down together sometime. Hopefully we will have the chance to do that eventually, probably in January. Of course, he probably met about 1000 people that night, therefore our conversation may not be at the forefront of his mind. But I am sure eventually we can schedule 15 minutes to get to know each other.

The Governor's speech focused on broad themes instead of specific proposals, with one exception, ethics. There was many references to bipartisanship. I look forward to seeing that in action. Although the new Governor and I are bound to disagree on some items, I stand ready to work together on what we agree on to benefit the people of the 69th District.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Getting started

I plan to give this blogging thing a try. I view this as another method of communicating with my constituents. Please check it out and I will try to post with some regularity. I think with the upcoming session, this will be a great chance for me to keep everyone up to date on what is happening in Frankfort. I may also share some of my thoughts about the process, why I voted a certain way on a bill, and other items I think you may find interesting. We will see how this goes.

First, some general points I would like to make.

I plan to use the spell check before posting. Sometimes I may forget. Therefore, I may misspell some words. Hang in there with me. In fact, I may misuse grammar on occasion. I'll try not to, but it could happen. Please bear with me.

Also, I believe I have disabled the comments. Why have I done this? There is too much vitriol on blog comments. Plus there are possible legal issues, etc. I think that you as a constituent would rather I spend my time working on your behalf and informing you of what is going on instead of trying to decide if I should post a comment. Again, we will see how it goes.

I plan to post a frequently as needed. During the session, I would imagine I will do it more often than when out of session. But again, we will see how it goes.

If you do have a comment, feel free to e-mail me at the address at the top of the page, or at my state address,