I continue to be amazed at the general incompetence of the General Assembly and the Governor when it comes to putting together a budget.
This one sentence from Pol Watchers sums up the problem.
No new taxes were included in the budget, lawmakers said. About $85 million in savings would be assumed from government efficiencies created by not filling state jobs that open up later this year after an expected wave of retirements.
Here’s the problem, you have to believe that experienced state employees making $85 million during the budget cycle, are totally worthless. You have to believe that the state will be better off without them.
Now I will allow in some cases that’s true. But the truth is if that many people and their institutional memory go out the door then a lot of things government does will be done badly or not at all.
The mantra of shrink the government only works if you are willing to put up with shrinking the services government provides. Now it’s obvious the politicians are willing to balance the budget on the backs of state workers, teachers and the poor. There is nothing new in that formula.
The need to act like lemmings and follow Grover Norquist makes passing a tax of any sort nearly impossible.
Our honorable leaders have also refused to do any of the heavy legislative lifting on major issues. They seem to have a need to engage in pissing contests like the one between David Williams and Harry Moberly and one between Damon Thayer and Mike Cherry rather than do any real work.
Take for example their inability to address the mess at Kentucky Retirement Systems.
Decisions on how to restructure the state employees' underfunded pension plans could depend on how much money the state budget can put into them.
House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said Monday evening that the budget being hammered out now has little in the way of new revenue, leaving pension plan negotiators in the dark and far apart.
The longer they put off doing something the bigger the mess gets. The same goes for Medicaid funding and true comprehensive tax reform.
Every legislator and the Governor know what the problems are, and what the solutions are, but they lack the political will to do their jobs.
There is an answer. A Governor that could actually lead and manage a thoughtful legislative agenda would go a long way to solve the problems but that’s at least four years away.
A complete change in the leadership of the House and the Senate would be good too. Every year these guys prove that if they were all in giant paper bag they would try to walk out the closed end. Again I don’t see this happening anytime soon.