Today the Pension task force looking at Kentucky’s own version of the dreaded fiscal cliff, the public employee pension debacle, submitted their recommendations. By a vote of 11-1 the group submitted more than a dozen recommendations most of which anyone who balances their checkbook at their kitchen table could have come up within 30 minutes.
At the core of their recommendations is that lawmakers come up with more money to pump into the woefully underfunded system. This year the payment would be about $505 million and jump to $830 million by 2015. For a decade Kentucky has been redirecting pension fund payments to other state programs resulting in an unfunded liability of over $30 billion. That’s billion with a ‘B’.
The task force also recommended changing the way benefits for future state, county and city employees are calculated. Currently it is a formula based on years of service and highest three years of salary. This “defined benefit” allows people to move into a higher paid position the last couple of years working and greatly boost their pension payouts. The new recommendation for future employees only, would be a hybrid account where the money contributed by the state and the employee would collect 4% interest.
They also recommended pushing out being able to pay off the unfunded liability to 30 years, repealing automatic cost of living adjustments currently scheduled, adding members to the Kentucky Retirment System Board making it an 11 person board, and implementing a waiting period of two years between the time a state employee retires and the time they can go back to work for the state. These “double dippers” actually draw both a pension and a salary. Actually a better system to stop this would be to stop paying a pension to any “retired” person who goes back to work and draws a salary. In a time of 8% unemployment, these “double dippers” are taking up a position that someone who needs a job could be doing.
These recommendations will now be written into a bill to be considered during the 2013 General Assembly. This problem coupled with the state’s debt and less than stellar credit rating won us the title of Worst Managed State in the U.S. by Wall Street 24/7 in 2010. Let’s call on our Governor, Representatives, and Senators in Frankfort to do the right thing and make the hard decisions required to get us back on a path to fiscal responsibility.
A lot has been written since the election, analysis from every side, commentary, blame and finger pointing. The media is salivating over what they are calling the infighting in the Republican Party. And to some extent there is some of that going on; it can be expected after such an important loss.
But one thing the media is not writing about, whether by choice or by ignorance. And that is the fact that the conservative movement is not dead, but very much alive. I hate to burst a lot of people’s bubble, but the heart of conservatism does not lie in bloviating TV pundits and has-been political consultants raking in six figures, sitting in multi-million dollar studios, writing on white boards, promoting their books and telling us who is most electable. Neither is it in the “nut cases” wasting their time and energy posting on Facebook and Twitter about signing a secession petition. I really hope the media keeps focusing on these and not the truth.
The real soul of conservatism is the local party leaders and precinct captains, recruiting people to give up their Saturdays to walk door to door in the cold and rain. To give up their evenings making phone calls using their own phones. It’s in the local races that are flipping local government seats that have been democratic for 60 years to an upstart young conservative candidate that no one gave a chance. It is in the state races where governors and state houses are going from blue to red in places never thought possible. And a lot of the ones that haven’t changed yet are gaining ground every election. It’s in the congressional race where an arrogant four-term democrat in a district hand drawn to make him safe is defeated by a young candidate who fights like his own baby’s future depends on it. And it’s in the local races where a candidate works so hard because he believes in the conservative message that even with the flu on the weekend before the election is still out knocking on doors and fighting for every vote.
So keep signing your petitions that don’t matter and post about it to all your friends or sit on TV and make an ass of yourself while telling us how relevant you are. But don’t look for me to be paying attention; I have a country to fight for.
We’ve heard Vice President Biden make the claim that “Osama Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive” in tv ads and stump speeches. But while Bin Laden may be dead, Al Qaeda is alive, maybe even more so than GM given the automaker’s latest financials.
Daily new information is coming out on the attacks on our consulate in Benghazi and the death of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. We now know that pleas for additional security were ignored, that administration officials knew from the outset that a video on YouTube was in no way responsible for the attack, and that support from several other sources could have been there within a short time but was withheld.
Richard Nixon was run out of office because of a cover up of a botched break in. President Obama is getting a pass by the media on Fast and Furious with dead border agents and over 300 murdered Mexican men, women, and children. When the Congressional investigation started getting too close, he claimed executive privilege and sealed the records.
Now the administration is giving us ever changing stories on an attack in which our ambassador was tortured and murdered along with 3 other Americans. We deserve better from our elected officials but the real people here who are failing at their jobs is the media. Is it any wonder the broadcast news networks and papers have zero credibility anymore? Where are the old school investigative journalists? Remember the day when people joked about it being a bad day when you found Mike Wallace and a 60 Minutes crew waiting at your office?
Now we have the president making appearances on The View or Comedy Central instead of taking questions at press conferences. We have pseudo-Journalists like Chris Matthews saying the president gives him a “thrill up his leg” when he speaks.
I know we hear a lot about media bias and people will argue that from both sides, but we are known by our fruits and their fruit seems to be rotting on the tree.
Ben Chandler has been in Washington too long. When you sacrifice your ability to represent the voters who supported and elected you in exchange for ideologies that threaten their jobs and livelihood for your own personal gain it is time to come home. Ben Chandler has crossed that line.
He is so far over the line in fact he is ashamed to meet with his constituents in open town halls and is hesitant to appear in open debates. If you have governed and voted on your core beliefs, you will have no problem explaining your actions. But Ben has had to rely on a page from the Daley’s Chicago dirty politics playbook. One of lying, attacking, and distorting the truth.
It is one thing to attack your opponent, we’ve come to expect that during tough campaigns. But to attack someone personally who is a hardworking Kentuckian, who started at the bottom of their industry and worked their way up to the top is disgusting. Do hardworking, successful Americans like Heath Lovell threaten people like Chandler and Obama? Or is it the coal industry itself that threatens their pet industries, companies like Solyndra wasting billions of tax payer dollars? That tactic may work in inner city Chicago with Obama, Axelrod, and Rahm Emanuel, but we deserve better from our representatives here in Kentucky. And we won’t stand for your intimidation and deceit, we fight back.
Barack Obama does not understand people who work hard to gain success. He went to ivy league schools and has never held a job like you and I have. At least not that we can tell, he had his records sealed by executive order on his first day in office. Does that sound like someone proud of their accomplishments? Ben has too long been relying on the name of his grandfather to get ahead. He spends more time disparaging that name and trying to hide from his heritage than he does working for Kentuckians.
But should we really be surprised? He has done nothing but supported Barack Obama’s agenda for the last 4 years. Ben claims he voted against Obamacare because “it is wrong for Kentucky”. But that was an election year and he faced a tough battle. With every vote since that threatens to change or repeal it, Chandler has shown his true colors. If Obamacare was wrong for Kentucky the first time, why is it good now? Now we even know about the hidden taxes on the middle class and the cuts to benefits for the elderly that is included.
Ben has also supported all of Obama’s policies that is crippling our coal industry including the energy tax. Thousands of Kentuckians rely on the coal industry; our state has some of the lowest energy rates in the nation. That is one of the things that make Kentucky attractive to industry even though we far down the list of business friendly states. But that is more a reflection of our state tax structure, our governor’s policies, and our crippling debt. The last thing hard working Kentuckians need is a congressman who compounds our obstacles, the economy is bad enough, gas prices are too high, and we can barely afford groceries.
Kentucky can no more afford another Ben Chandler term in congress as the United States can afford another Obama term. It’s time to quit hoping and time to work for real change.
I lost a client this week. I really wish it was that simple, that he had found someone else to do his work or retired. But this time it is permanent. Ron Lakin, broker/owner of C21 Paradisepalm, had a heart attack Monday and passed away. Ron was more than a client, our families go back longer than I’ve been alive and he was a friend. He was my mom’s broker when she first got into real estate and he was her broker now as she talks about retiring. He was in real estate probably half of his life.
Every time I went to Florida to visit my family I would set aside a day to stop by his office and visit him. He always had a story or joke to tell, and invariably would have some little project or mini-crisis he needed my help with at just that time. Ron was the kind of guy I really enjoyed helping and spending a little time working with even if I was on a vacation. He was a big guy with a big heart, a big sense of humor, and a huge laugh to go with it. He will leave an even bigger hole in many of our lives.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Linda, Mike, Monica, and the rest of the family. Also with his Sunday School class and the people in his office. Ron will be missed by a lot of people but while my heart is saddened at his passing, I can’t help but smile thinking of the grandfather who raised him, B.R. Lakin, waiting for him on the other side with his arms wide open or seeing Ron cruising golden streets on a Harley. R.I.P. Ron.
Now must we part, but shall meet again
when we rise again in gladness;
may our dear Lord grant their rest to the dead,
and eke his love to the living.