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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

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Editor &Publisher - Dr. Mark H. Grayson, (DoL) Hon. 2005 EKU
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Draw line in the sand against cuts to education, public safety, economic development and health care

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Vowing to fight cuts to priority programs, including K-12 education, Governor Steve Beshear and House Democratic leaders rejected Senator David Williams’ eleventh-hour proposal on the Medicaid budget.

“Sen. Williams wants our schoolchildren, our college students, our seniors, our veterans, our state police, our prosecutors, our social workers and many others to pay for a shortfall in the Medicaid budget,” said Gov. Beshear.  “I won’t stand for one penny to be hijacked from our school systems, nor one cent stolen from public safety to protect our families.  My proposal fixes Medicaid within the Medicaid budget without these painful and unnecessary cuts.”

Facing a shortfall in the Medicaid budget, Gov. Beshear proposed transferring $166.5 million from the FY 2012 Medicaid budget to FY2011, then capturing those savings through expanded managed care programs and other program efficiency measures.  The proposal passed overwhelmingly in a bipartisan manner in the House.

Senate President David Williams’ proposal, passed by the Senate, would instead cut $148.5 million from the non-Medicaid areas of the budget, with 81 percent of the cuts coming from priority areas of education, health care and public safety.  This includes:

  • Education: $47.4 million from K-12 education, including $38.4 million from SEEK, the basic funding for formula for classroom teaching.  These cuts to SEEK are in addition to the estimated $49 million shortfall in FY 11 and $29 million in FY 12.
  • Higher Education: $28 million from higher education, including $22 million from institutions’ base budgets and $4.3 million from student financial aid.
  • Health and Family Services (non-Medicaid): $19 million from non-Medicaid programs in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, including social workers, public health departments and Meals on Wheels services.
  • Justice and Public Safety programs: $17.4 million from public safety programs, including state troopers, local jail support and juvenile justice programs, as well as $12.1 million from the Corrections Department.
  • Judicial Branch: $8.5 million from the Judicial Branch, which has suffered from layoffs under previous cuts.
  • Rest of state government: $28.2 million from the rest of state government, including job creation programs, state parks, environmental and worker safety programs and veterans assistance programs.

This proposal ignores the cumulative impact of eight budget cuts totaling over $1 billion to agency budgets over the past three years and the enacted cuts already built into FY12.  Many targeted programs have already faced 20 to 30 percent budget cuts.

“We have balanced our budget eight times in three years because of the global economic recession, and with it, a billion dollars has been cut from our state budget,” said Gov. Beshear.  “Yet, every time, we have protected SEEK from cuts.  I am not about to start cutting it now, especially when there is a viable alternative to balance our Medicaid budget on the table.”

House leaders pledged to reject Senate plans to cut state services across the board as legislators head into a conference committee on the Medicaid budget bill.

“The most prudent choice is to allow the Governor to continue to manage this Medicaid deficit before we take the radical option of cutting education and other essential services,’ said House Speaker Greg Stumbo.  “If you look at the Governor’s track record over the last three years, he’s cut about a billion dollars from government spending without having Kentuckians suffer through the crises we see in many other states. The Governor has a proven track record, and deserves our support.”

“Other states have implemented expanded managed care contracts that have generated savings while improving health outcomes,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Janie Miller.  “We are confident that we will replicate those results. The Cabinet is poised to act quickly and aggressively to achieve contracts with managed care organizations to capture the required savings in FY 12."

Without passage of a Medicaid bill, the only alternative would be to cut health care provider rates by 30 percent, warned Sec. Miller, which would also lead to layoffs, furloughs and reductions in health care services.

 

The founders of America had a great idea to form a more perfect union…an idea that lasted for 200 plus years…. but recently things have happened to make ask myself…JUST WHERE IN THE H*** did we go wrong? We went from a hard working nation to one that makes it more rewarding to stay home, sit on our butts, get fatter, produce more kids…and get paid for it; get housing free or at a reduced rate, get food stamps, get child care paid for, have attendance at a technical school or college paid for. More attractive than than it is to make an honest days work?

What’s more, some cities have a program that asks citizens to add a few more dollars to their monthly utility bills…to…”help those people that are having a hard time paying their utility bills.” If memory serves correctly…. most common sense folks, if they knew they did not have money to pay their utility bills, would conserve energy to make sure they did not go over budget…but nowadays why bother? Someon, the government or other welfare programs ,will pay my bill…makes perfect sense to them…but not me.

Now don’t get me wrong…I do support the welfare system now employed in the United States…. to a degree. I believe it should be used for those folks that are older and disabled and cannot work…I DO NOT support welfare, food stamps, free housing, etc. for able bodied young adults that have never held a job nor did an honest days work…welfare was never intended for that.

From way back when there was no welfare, everyone did something for the support of the family...the husband or wife or both found a job…no matter what kind of job…it was looked upon as a job. There was no such thing as turning down a job...because it was below one’s educational level or it was a job below one’s self perceived social status, it was a job with everyone looking at it as contributing his family’s well being. People did not like to take handouts without giving something in return. All family members would pitch in and do chores around the house, raise a small garden…without complaining. And neighbors helped neighbors! I understand that there were “social” organizations that had heart to heart talks with lazy men who would not take care of his family...and I am certainly not advocating support for those organizations…just making a point…could be a form of anti-welfare.

It is especially disheartening to see a person who worked all his or her life, paid into the Social Security (SS) system and are now enrolled in and paying for Medicare, plus a supplement. They draw a set amount of SS, getting raises tied to formula concocted by Congress. Whatever it is SS recipients will not get a raise through 2012…but the cost of Medicare continues to climb. Where as some if not all welfare recipients get raises, health care in the form of Medicaid, free lunches for their children, free cell phones…HUD helps pay for non-public housing and numerous other free things thusly allowing them to drive good cars, have manicured nails, visit to the beauty shop…and oh yes a free cell phone with 250 free minutes plus other amenities that some SS recipients can only dream of.

Where in the H*** is the Justice?

Just stop and think about it…we have made welfare so lucrative that it pays better than a minimum wage job. I have seen young ladies on the internet bragging that for each child they get $1,500.00 per month and have 5 or 6 kids, for a woman with 6 kids that is $9,000.00 a month…in addition to the food stamps, and other freebies…the money they get for those kids, is then used to support the whole family. Humm…no wonder they don’t want to work.

There are hard working folks out there who have been laid off from their jobs and are losing their homes and can’t qualify for Government assistance…while those career welfare recipients are snug in their Government free or subsidized housing…and no worries.

So how do we fix it?  I don’t really know, but it is for sure that something has to be done. If I was in a positio to do so, I would require drug tests for all welfare recipients…failure would be cause for removal from public housing and welfare rolls…sent to rehabilitation, then given mandatory job training. During this time the children would become wards of the state…until such time the parent/guardian becomes clean and stays that way for a year or two, is gainfully employed and can provide a stable home for the children.

Drastic you say. Perhaps not…if you consider that the kids would be given a more stable home, the parents would get off drugs, break the welfare cycle and become a contributing member of society rather than…a taker from society.

I can be contacted at the below addresses, your comments are solicited and welcomed in the space at the bottom of this page.

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The last full week of the 2011 legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly was hectic but productive as major issues were resolved and important legislation pased. Several pieces of legislation were signed into law by the governor this week.

This session may well be remembered for the passage of landmark legislation that will reform Kentucky’s corrections system, hold offenders more accountable, and treat people addicted to drugs in a more understanding and productive manner. House Bill 463 would help cut incarceration costs – Kentucky has about 20,500 inmates and spends $440 million a year on corrections – through community supervision and substance abuse treatment to reduce offenders’ chances of returning to prison.

Incarceration costs are now about $21,700 per inmate but it is expected that House Bill 463 could save $127 million over the next decade. House Bill 463 would offer community supervision and other services, such as substance abuse treatment, to reduce an offender's chances of returning to prison. The bill will still punish violent crimes and drug trafficking but will reduce the punishment for simple drug possession. While remaining a Class D felony, possession of small amounts will result in up to three years in prison, down from the current maximum of five, and repeat offenses will remain Class D felonies rather than being Class C felonies punishable by up to 10 years behind bars. House Bill 463 is hailed as a successful collaborative effort, beginning with meetings months ago with all stakeholders across the Commonwealth. House Bill 463 is now law.

Another bill to receive the governor’s signature this session was Senate Bill 110, a measure that will allow optometrists to perform certain treatments and surgical procedures — including a laser procedure sometimes needed after cataract surgery — that now must be done by ophthalmologists. Senate Bill 110 was designed to provide greater access to necessary eye care for families across the Commonwealth.Optometrists are located in 106 counties throughout Kentucky. In contrast, two-thirds of the state’s counties do not have an ophthalmologist. Patients – especially in rural communities – can now depend on their hometown eye doctor to treat their eye health needs efficiently, effectively and safely.

A bill that would help build carbon dioxide pipelines in Kentucky through state incentives and eminent domain rights passed the House 80-17 and awaits the governor’s signature. Senate Bill 50 would add carbon dioxide pipelines to the short list of pipelines currently built by eminent domain in Kentucky, including natural gas and oil pipelines. Carbon dioxide pipeline projects eligible for incentives under Senate Bill 50 need a minimum investment of $50 million. Carbon dioxide pipelines created under Senate Bill 50 could move carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants to oil recovery sites in-state and elsewhere, among other uses. Pipelines would also allow the gas to be transported for storage in deep underground natural reservoirs.

The House passed Senate Bill 12 which would give Kentucky school superintendents a vote in the election of new principals. Currently, Kentucky superintendents have no voice in principal selection because state law gives site-based decision making councils that authority. Under Senate Bill 12 the superintendent or his designee would serve as chair of the council and have a vote in the new hiring process. Senate Bill 12 passed the House by a vote of 83-16 and now returns to the Senate for approval.

A bill that would legalize fireworks previously prohibited in the state passed the Kentucky House this week. House Bill 333, which passed on a 92-6 vote, would allow the sale and use of fireworks that explode or shoot up into the air. These fireworks have been banned in Kentucky since at least 1982.

Under the House Bill 333, fireworks sellers would have to obtain a $250 license each year, $250 annually for seasonal vendors and $500 for year-round vendors. Fireworks that would be made legal under House Bill 333 include firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles. House Bill 333 waits approval in the Senate.

The House approved House Bill 465 which would Kentucky to join an interstate racing compact to oversee rules regarding racing and wagering across state lines. It would allow the governor to join an interstate racing compact that could issue regulations in horse racing states. The compact would not go into effect until at least six states join it. The interstate compact would help develop uniform rules for the industry and the bill also includes language that would ensure the legislature’s administrative regulation committee be made aware of possible changes to Kentucky’s racing laws that the interstate compact is working on.

Senate Bill 30, a plan to fill a multimillion dollar deficit in the state’s Medicaid budget passed by the Senate, would make cuts across state government — including cuts to K-12 education. Under the proposal, most of state government would be cut by 0.525 percent in the remaining months of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and a 2.26 percent cut in fiscal year 2012. Higher education and K-12 would not be cut in the first year, but the funding formula for K-12 schools, would be cut about 1.13 percent in the second year. The House is expected to not concur or agree with Senate Bill 305 which will then be assigned to a conference committee, where consensus will be sought.

The General Assembly now breaks from March 8-18 for the 10-day veto period where we do not meet in session. The governor will consider vetoes to legislation that has passed in the preceding weeks. We will return to the Capitol for two days on March 21 and 22 to adjourn the 2011 Regular Session.

Remember, you can stay informed of legislative action on bills of interest to you this session by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. For committee meeting schedules, please call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650. Or, to comment on a bill, please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181.

It is a pleasure and an honor to serve as your state representative.