Tuesday, January 15, 2008

State of the State

The best thing about Governor Beshear’s first state-of-the-state address on Monday evening was that it was brief and did not require thinking on the part of the listener, only patience. Predictably, he began by deploring the sorry state of affairs and troubling times in old Kentucky, particularly hammering the revenue outlook, which he described as grim.

Assuming the martyr-attitude, he moaned that he inherited this situation (budgetary shortfall) but that he will have to fix it…with raising taxes as only a last resort. Sound familiar? Translated, this means that the election is over and that he assumes carte blanche for doing anything he can get away with, including raising taxes, such raise already being screamed for with regard to the cigarette-smokers, on whose backs everything from education to bridges must be financed. The guv has said “no” to that, but what does he know? He didn’t mention it.

He proceeded to remarking the lack of trust in government, an obvious slap at former governor Fletcher, and that such trust must be restored. He knows, of course, that there is no greater lack of trust in government now than there ever was, and probably should just read the newspaper clippings from the 1970s (Carroll era) to make his comparisons…or most any other era, for that matter. He mentioned a Constitutional amendment in the works to limit the governor’s power to pardon but knows that such an amendment will not be put forth by the legislature any time soon, especially as it would clutter any November election cycle featuring an amendment dealing with casinos.

Beshear spoke of re-engineering Kentucky’s economy, guaranteeing more of everything, and that imagination would have to be used, as well as innovations, citing those in Europe. He said the financial problem is unprecedented, a patently untrue statement, but a good one for such speeches. He declared that his administration will not tolerate the status quo…so what else is new? Has any governor ever espoused maintaining the status quo? Speech-writers must be in short supply these days.

Beshear gave no specifics, which is just as well, since he will unload his budget-program on the 29th. In the interview following the address, Senate President Williams said outright that the casino issue is not going anywhere during this session. House Speaker Richards mentioned that Beshear ran on the issue and will make his thoughts known on the 29th. Stay tuned.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

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