Out of the Asylum

Legislator n - A person who goes to the capital of his country to increase his own
Ambrose Bierce
"The Devils Dictionary"

Does anyone remember a time when the Commonwealth of Kentucky was not crying for more funds? Good times and bad, state government offers the tin cup to its citizens. Always the threat is that education, roads, police and parks will have to do without. Always the same solution is asserted, higher taxes. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Enter Governor Steve Beshear, calling for an emergency session of the legislature to deal with a $450-million budgeted shortfall. Beshear declares taxes must increase or schools, roads and public safety will vanish. Rubbish! Budgets can be reduced. The nation is in deep recession, perhaps heading for depression. The states are only the nation in miniature. Each has its own economy determined at least partially by actions they may control. For instance, Michigan, a high tax, heavily regulated, closed shop is in actual depression now while low tax, right-to-work states like Tennessee and South Carolina are performing well, even in these troublesome times.

Raising taxes into a depressed economy is the equivalent in golf of hitting your first shot into the lake with a 7-iron, using the same club for your third and fifth shot and then selecting it for your seventh. Experience has proven a 7-iron is not the right choice and will result only in further penalty. Likewise, history plainly shows that raising tax rates decreases rather than increases receipts and produces an additional penalty in statewide job and income loss. That being the technical reason for not pushing exactions higher, the moral one is of even greater clarity. For a bloated bureaucracy to impose additional financial burden on its populous when the latter is already in financial extremis is the utmost in public knavery. A government must exist for its people, not the other way around.

Clearly, the Commonwealth must adjust its budget downward cutting those services less important to its populace rather than those most dear. If Beshear really seeks to promote growth in public receipts as well as improving the lot of his constituents, he will propose eliminating the state income tax and intangible property tax along with opening the shop floor. Investment and jobs will then flow into Kentucky and as surely as night follows day, those projects lost to tightening today will be redeemed tomorrow, with more besides. If not, Senate President David Williams must steadfastly stand in the gap against even higher taxes. It is said that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the practice of the insane. It is time Kentucky government stood up and walked out of the asylum.