Kentucky Swamp

It is true that you get what you pay for… when talking about phone chargers at a highway rest stop. Sure, you paid $1.50 for that $20 iPhone charger because you’re going to use it only twice before throwing it in the trashcan.

Would you pay $100 for one? Of course not…

So why are GOP state lawmakers enabling Gov. Matt “Bell Curve” Bevin to overspend on bureaucrats? It really shouldn’t be difficult to find good leaders; people who are interested in public service.

Yet, news broke last week that Bevin was giving a $215,000 raise to one of his cabinet officials — signs that The Swamp has reached Kentucky. 

What makes it worse is that Republican lawmakers changed the law to allow this kind of insider, boys club dealing.

For years, it was against Kentucky law for any state employee to make more money than the governor. But, a last-minute provision was added to the GOP’s two-year budget, at the request of Bevin’s administration, to exempt certain positions from that law — among them, the executive director of the Commonwealth Office of Technology.

So, after his $215,000 raise, the head of technology in Bevin’s cabinet, Charles Grindle, will make $375,000 of taxpayers’ dollars.

The top 1 percent of income earners in the country take home about $480,000 per year. In Kentucky, according to CNBC, that figure is just $270,000, which lands Grindle safely in the top percent for the Commonwealth.

To put it in perspective, his annual salary equals eight years of work for the average Kentuckian, who takes home under $47,000 per year.

For teachers, whose average salary in Kentucky is about $53,000 each year, that amounts to seven years in the classroom. Grindle’s raise alone would have been enough to provide more than 80 teachers each with a 5-percent raise.

It’s not just this guy who is now among Kentucky’s elite, thanks to all of our unsolicited generosity. Bevin’s pastor buddy from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was given a $240,000 no-bid contract to become adoption czar (And what happened? The Courier Journal reported that he left the post without explanation in January and was paid a $60,000 termination fee.)

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The top two people in Bevin’s Cabinet for Economic Development each make $250,000 each year.

Bevin also used his new amendment to Kentucky law to raise the salary of the secretary of Health and Family Services to a high of $165,000. This must be for all of the hard work he’s done figuring out ways to strip healthcare away from hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.

Did you get a raise this year?

How about last year?

What would you have to do to have your salary more than double?

It seems the easiest way to get rich is to buddy up to Bevin (and if the adoption czar was any indication, results seem… flexible).

And if there are no openings in his cabinet, maybe he’ll find a few million dollars in the tax coffers to invest in your aluminum production plant. 

This exorbitant spending is further evidence that Bevin is just as much of a fraud when it comes to fiscal conservatism as is Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and every other self-proclaimed “fiscal conservative” of the last two decades. That includes junior Sen. Rand Paul, who won’t vote for any budget that isn’t balanced, but voted for a tax cut that adds over $1 trillion to the debt.

Bell-Curve Bevin says we can’t afford expanded Medicaid, and that teachers and police officers need to sacrifice the pensions they’ve earned. Oh, but we can’t afford to not pay his cronies private-sector, 1-percent salaries. 

Bevin is no longer the outside-of-politics reformer he had sold himself as before becoming governor. He’s a political insider up to his neck in the swamp, making his friends wealthy on our money.

There is something to be said for raising the pay grade to attract better candidates. And I’ll be the first to pay more taxes if that’s what it costs to recruit better public servants than Matt Bevin. Let’s pay for the best and brightest, because he sure isn’t the best money can buy. •

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