Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Governor Beshear Unveils budget proposals

"He can't cut services, for instance Medicaid. He can't throw people out of prison. I think the biggest danger is in education"
-Rep. Harry Moberly(D, troglodyte)

Actually that's one BIG thing that should be done. Anyone who is in prison for simple possession of marijuana should be released and put back into the job market(and no I don't need the competition) paying payroll taxes.
Gatewood Galbraith who(unlike Rep. Moberly) isn't afraid of political ramifications and is fairly intelligent(except when he's going all "Ted Nugent" about guns) has said for decades that marijuana should be legalized and taxed just like alcohol. He's absolutely right.
Sadly my old Kentucky home which ALWAYS brings up the rear lacks the will, the common sense, the scientific knowledge, the courage and the vision to lead in anything that makes sense.
Anyway, here's Guv Steve's budget. Overall it has some good parts. Working within the restrictions they have on themselves it could be worse(and most likely would be under a Republican).
This is from The Kentucky Democrat so the glowing oratory is theirs:

Kentucky is facing the largest budget shortfall in modern history. It is the third year in a row the state will be faced with revenues that don't meet projected needs - also an unprecedented occurrence.

Governor Beshear's plan represents a common-sense, compassionate approach that will help fulfill the two goals he has set for his administration: helping people survive and positioning the state for progress when the economy does inevitably turn around.

Three key elements of the plan:

The proposed budget next year does not raise taxes on working families and businesses - now is not the time to put additional burdens on our families already struggling to make ends meet.

The plan would preserve basic funding for classroom instruction and universities, health care programs for the most vulnerable and key areas of public safety.

The Governor said: "My plan protects our families and businesses in this vulnerable time; preserves investments in critical priorities like education, health care and public safety and recognizes the economy will take years to recover."

How will it be paid for?

In short, the proposed plan will be paid for by making an additional $200 million in cuts this coming budget year and utilizing more than $740 million in federal stimulus dollars, the bulk of which would go toward education and Medicaid as designed by law.

Given the challenges that we will face in the next biennium, as predicted by the Consensus Forecasting Group, it is prudent that we reserve some of the stimulus money to help us address next year's budget.

Without this money, the pain we are experiencing would be magnified many times over. We must realize, however, that this is one-time money. We cannot and should not use it to create new programs we would be unable to sustain in future years.

Highlights of the plan include:

Preserving the same amount in the coming year as last year in per pupil spending in classrooms across the state - the basic formula known as SEEK -- and funding for higher education at the same levels as the 2009 budget.

Fully funding Kentucky's Medicaid program, which until recently had run a more than $280 million deficit.

Preserving funding for mental health services at current levels.

Preserving funding for state police and support for local jails as well as increasing funding for prosecutors, public defenders and corrections(*1).

Maintaining current funding for economic development efforts, veteran's programs and increasing resources in the Department of Revenue to escalate tax collection efforts. Also, increasing funding for parks to ensure that the system can meet its obligations in the coming year.

Cutting most other areas of state government by an additional 2.6 percent in the coming year from current year levels. That's on top of nearly $600 million in cuts to state government since Gov. Beshear took office 18 months ago, including some $150million in the 2009 budget.

Eliminating three paid holidays for state employees making under $50,000 annually and five holidays for those making $50,000 or more. This move, Governor Beshear said, will prevent the disruption of basic services as state government is closed on holidays in any event. And it will help avert mass layoffs, as some other states are doing.

Continuing the budget reduction plan in the Transportation Cabinet to deal with a projected $239 million shortfall in the state's Road Fund.(*2)

Despite the pain that additional spending reductions and program cuts will foster, Governor Beshear said Kentucky is much more fortunate than most states, many of which have laid off scores of police, teachers, state and university employees, while also severely cutting basic and human services programs.

"*'s" are mine
(*1) To put away lot's more of those "killer weed" addicts don't you know.
(*2) So much for the job prospects picking up in my line of work.

Oh, by the way. I tend to agree quite a bit with Eric Schansberg. They need to learn what the word staying within a "budget" actually means. I didn't say I agree completely, I'm a Liberal Democrat and Schansberg's a Libertarian for heaven's sake.
So you have that.


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