In yet another whiny speech about how broke the Commonwealth is, Governor C. Montgomery Beshear proposed an “austere” budget that’ll put such a hurt on us that we’ll be dying (some literally, others illiterately) to vote for casino gambling and toll bridges. To make up the current $580ish-million budget shortfall, higher education, roads and social services will feel the most pain, while Medicaid and public schools will get off a little easier.
One possible revenue source is a proposed 70-cent cigarette tax boost, which would generate about $200 million per year and save countless lives — but that’s a brilliant idea, so it has almost no chance of passing in the General Assembly. What the anti-tax zealots won’t say is that at $3 billion-per-year in healthcare and $550 million in Medicaid, tobacco-related illness is Kentucky’s No. 1 healthcare expense, so not raising the tax is also kind of a tax, only more expensive and deadlier.
The glass-half-full version of that last stat is this: hospitals are Kentucky’s 7th-largest industry, according to a U of L study. So, hey, killing ourselves is good for business!
With its heroic desegregation system famously screwed by the Supreme Court, Jefferson County Public Schools approved a plan to temporarily assign students according to geography instead of race next year, which will serve to keep schools integrated without using race as the benchmark because our city itself is so heartbreakingly segregated. The compromise reassignment impacts only elementary schools, and should keep 93 percent of families where they want to be and the other 7 percent constantly calling talk radio and posting insightful comments like “YUR A MORAN!!”