GOP Gov. Matt Bevin's austerity regime will come to fruition (or in this case, rot) in 2018 and voters here seem wholly uninterested in stopping him. First, he finally dropped the other shoe on killing Medicaid expansion yesterday, taunting health advocacy groups who have promised to take him to court. Bevin says without blinking that he will take health care away from ten percent of the state if the courts dare find his new Medicaid work rules unconstitutional.
Gov. Matt Bevin has issued an executive order that would strip Medicaid coverage from nearly half a million Kentuckians should his proposed overhaul of the federal-state health plan be struck down in court.
No one has filed a legal challenge to Bevin's changes to Kentucky's Medicaid program that federal authorities approved Friday.
But several advocacy groups have said some of the changes — such as requiring some "able-bodied" adults to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week — likely will be challenged in court because they violate federal law that establishes Medicaid purely as a health program and does not authorize work requirements.
Advocates who criticized Bevin's overhaul of Kentucky's Medicaid program were also critical of the executive order he issued Friday, the same day the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved his plan to reshape Medicaid in Kentucky.
"Is the Governor of Kentucky saying that if he is caught doing something illegal, he will take health care away from hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who have done nothing wrong?" asked Leonardo Cuello, director of health policy for the National Health Law Program.
Cuello's Washington-based health advocacy group is considering a legal challenge to Bevin's plan.
Ahh, but if you think Bevin is bluffing, you should see his 2018 austerity budget proposal that cuts billions from education, infrastructure, and eliminates 70 social programs in the state over the next two years.
Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday night proposed a budget that he said would eliminate 70 state programs and cut spending at most agencies by 6.25 percent while fully funding state pension plans.
And the governor gave a high priority in the lean spending plan to the main public school funding program known as SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky), saying its funding will not be cut.
"The real budget focus this year is getting our financial house in order," Bevin told a joint meeting of the Kentucky House and Senate in an hourlong State of the Commonwealth and budget address.
The key step in doing that, he said, is by fully funding the hundreds of millions of dollars more that he said are needed by state retirement systems, which are $43 billion in debt.
Bevin's budget does not anticipate tax reform, but the governor said that issue remains a priority. He said if tax reform cannot pass in the current regular session, he will push that a special session later in the year.
In his speech, Bevin did not identify any of the 70 programs to be eliminated. He said they were "scattered throughout state government." A briefing released by his administration during the speech said the budget closes the state's film incentive program to new applicants.
He said the eliminations result in massive savings that minimized cuts to other parts of state government, where cuts much deeper than 6.25 percent were feared.
Some areas of the budget would get an increase, like social worker, adoption programs and opioid abuse prevention, but dozens of higher education, arts, teacher recruiting, agriculture, job training, scholarships, environmental, library aid, rural hospital and women's programs would be eliminated entirely, and of course the billions in cuts across the board for just about everything left.
And of course "tax reform" means Bevin wants to go the full Brownback and eliminate the state's income tax on businesses and put the tax burden squarely on workers with new sales and vice taxes. It's Kansas all over again, only with a massive state pension problem hanging over everyone to boot. Not even Brownback wanted complete austerity, he just tried to wreck roads and schools.
If you're wondering what the post-Obama GOP austerity agenda looks like without Trump's ego mucking things up, Kentucky in 2018 is the place where you want to look.
Coming soon to a state near you if the GOP has its way.