Jim Waters: Legislative Session introduced Override-O-Rama, with a final day Spendlooza
Ahead of this year’s General Assembly, Frankfort GOP insiders joked that Secretary of State Michael Adams could end up signing more bills than Governor Andy Beshear.
It didn’t quite happen in the end.
Yet Adams, who is responsible for signing veto bills struck down by the legislature, has been very busy. He signed 29 bills and a joint resolution as law as pre-session resentment over Beshear’s excessive use of executive power during the COVID-19 crisis spilled over to the session.
The results were real moments of stimulation and disruption of freedom at this year’s General Assembly.
Freedom boosters: Lawmakers who voted for – and then overturned Beshear’s veto of – House Bill 563, school choice legislation opening the door to more public and private educational opportunities for Kentucky students, especially those from low-income households.
Legislative leaders and grassroots lawmakers in the state House and Senate have not only allowed school choice legislation to move forward, but have also made passionate statements in favor educational freedom despite withered pressure from the anti-choice teachers’ union and their legislative allies.
These opponents have made false accusations in both chambers, saying that giving parents without financial means the right to choose a better school for their children somehow translates into hatred of public education. Unsurprisingly, a veto was issued by the ideological twin of these opponents in the governor’s office.
It is a real stretch for opponents to accuse this effort of being anti-public education when much of the bill gives parents the option to enroll their children in a public school outside the district where they reside, with government dollars to track transfer students.
We have yet to hear from those same naysayers how giving parents options between public schools destroys public education.
Liberty Busting, big expense style: If Monday (March 29) could be called Override-O-Rama, then Tuesday (March 30), the last day of the session, was a splendid display of an all-out Spendalooza as lawmakers spent $ 1.25 billion dollars, much of which is made possible by federal dollars in coronavirus aid.
Not all expenses were necessarily misguided. In total, $ 750 million has been spent paying down Kentucky’s UI debts, a huge problem for too long.
Yet the practice of passing such bills with limited debate and consideration in the final hours – like this year’s push for legislation containing an inconvenient Tax Increase Funding (TIF) bill aimed at revitalize Louisville’s West End – must stop.
The legislation allows the West End Opportunity Partnership to issue debts and then bill taxpayers if the TIF does not produce the revenue necessary to cover the service of that debt, or if the agency decides it will write off the debt. loans, which is also what is not prohibited.
It also doesn’t require competitive bidding for contracts, meaning the process could easily be abused as friends are taken care of while taxpayers are duped.
Senate leaders boasted of having spent six months working on this project. Why, then, did it take so many ranks for grassroots lawmakers to get it through during the last minutes of the 30-day session?
Freedom booster: Mastery of the Law by Representative C. Ed Massey created a new pension plan for new teachers, offering them a defined benefit while protecting taxpayers. The bill, which prevents Kentucky’s pension deficit from deepening and is expected to save the state $ 3.5 billion over the next 30 years, has improved every time it defended him, including his statement in the House implicating Beshear for having vetoed it.
Massey noted that the governor had vetoed the bill “without any contribution to the process that we have been conducting for over a year,” including careful efforts to educate policy makers and gain support from various groups of parties. stakeholders, including the Jefferson County Teachers Union.
Other lawmakers rewarded Massey’s hard work and passionate presentation with a warm ovation and an overwhelming 63-30 vote nullifying Beshear, a past and ongoing “freedom breaker”.
Jim Waters is President and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free market think tank. Read the previous columns on www.bipps.org. He can be contacted at [email protected] and @bipps on Twitter.