I am a backyard gardener, with spring approaching and seed catalogs multiplying in my mail box my thoughts often turn to what I will plant this year.
Now as any gardener knows you have to feed those plants. One of the best natural sources of plant food is cow flops.
Cow flops are great for spreading over planting beds; verbal cow flops are not so good when spread over taxpayers of Kentucky.
Today’s Herald Leader had a large pile of cow flops generated by state budget director Bradford L. Cowgill.
Bradford was singing the praises of how the Fletcher administration has put together a great budget and not raised taxes. The truth is they did raise taxes. They didn’t do it well. They didn’t actually reform the revenue stream to actually meet the state needs, but let’s ignore that for the moment.
Allow me to present an idiot’s guide to state budgeting. Yes, this is greatly simplified, it is and idiot’s guide after all, but we will cover the essentials.
First, the largest expenditure of any state agency, and state government as a whole, is the cost of employee salaries and benefits. There are no exceptions, not Medicaid, not Arena’s in Louisville, not contracts for highways --- nothing.
Second, if you are going to “save” money to fund all the pork barrel projects, then you have to do it by not paying the employees a fair wage or by weaseling out on commitments to paying benefits.
Warning Huge Cow Flop Ahead!!!!
I love this statement from Cowgill, “Within our existing revenue base, it is simply not possible to fulfill the state's commitments and obligations in Medicaid and employee benefits and simultaneously pursue new programs in education and economic development except with Fletcher's dramatic savings and efficiency initiatives.”
Boy, you can smell that puppy a mile away.
Those dramatic savings are paid for in part by ignoring the actuarial realities of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.
I will not go into the number of times that past governors and General Assemblies have not funded state employee salaries to meet the cost of living. Nor will I go into the number of reorganizations that have cost individual employees thousands of dollars in lost salaries.
The cold hard reality is that it is easy for the Governor, and the spineless General Assembly, to ignore the need for a comprehensive reform of taxes in Kentucky.
They would rather depend on no pain revenue schemes like the lottery and casino gambling to produce additional money for the sausage mill of pork projects while they balance the budget on the backs of the employees and retirees of state government.