Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Last Call For Austerity In Bevinstan

And it begins.

Here in Kentucky the state is facing a $200 million shortfall, and GOP Gov. Matt Bevin is taking it out of the paychecks of state employees and the pockets of those who need state services by ordering a nearly 20% budget cut to state agencies.

The Bevin administration asked constitutional officers and cabinet secretaries Friday to cut spending in most state agencies by 17.4 percent this fiscal year to address an expected $200 million budget shortfall. 
The cuts would not affect SEEK, the state’s school funding formula; universities; Medicaid; the Department of Corrections; and debt payments, said Bevin communications director Amanda Stamper. 
In a letter to state officials, State Budget Director John Chilton said Kentucky “must start preparing for the ongoing financial challenges facing the state” and come up with a budget reduction plan by Sept. 25. 
Chilton said the cuts would save an estimated $350 million, enough to close the $200 million projected shortfall for the fiscal year that began July 1 and replenish the state’s $150 million rainy day fund for emergencies. He said the emergency fund will be spent in coming months and must be replaced to protect the state’s credit rating. 
“While challenging, the current fiscal constraints present a unique opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness and necessity of programs within state government,” Chilton said. “Limited resources must be allocated to programs providing critical services and a strong return on investment.”

Chilton said agency heads are “best positioned to make critical judgments about which programs deserve full funding, and which should be significantly reduced.”
The legislative and judicial branches of state government were also asked to make similar cuts. 
Bevin’s move to cut costs comes after a group of economists known as the Consensus Forecasting Group revised the state’s official revenue forecast downward last month by $200 million. 
Kentucky has endured repeated rounds of budget cuts since the Great Recession of 2008. In all, some state agencies will have seen more than 70 percent of their budgets disappear in the last decade, according to the liberal-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. 
House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Morehead, called Bevin’s request “unprecedented.” 
The possible cuts to services, programs and jobs “seem premature,” Adkins said. 
“We’re only in the third month of the new fiscal year and the governor’s move is based on a projection from a group of independent economists,” Adkins said. “It would seem to me to be better and more responsible to wait until more months pass in the fiscal year to get a better reading of what the shortfall might be.”

No wonder the Bluegrass State is one the unhappiest states in the nation, huh?

Attorney General Andy Beshear is probably going to have some words for Bevin's budget cutting by fiat, so we'll see how far this goes, but yeah.  Since I've moved to Kentucky, state agencies and services have been slashed and burned.  Yes, some of those cuts came under Steve Beshear, but a lot came from Bevin too and he's only been in office for a year and a half.

And you'd better believe a lot more cuts are coming as Bevin is freely going after Kentucky teachers and school employees for "creating" the state's pension shortfall, which ironically is only making things worse because retirements this fall are up sharply as people are getting out now before Bevin can scrap retirement benefits.

The guy's been a disaster for the state.  We're not as bad off as Kansas, but if Bevin has his way we will be, and worse.

Another Day In Gunmerica

There was a brutal and deadly mass shooting in Texas on Sunday and we've finally reached the point where something like that is no longer national news when it gets dismissed as a domestic violence incident that nobody wants to talk about.

Nine people are dead, including the gunman, after he opened fire on a football watching party at a Plano home Sunday night. 
The unidentified suspect was shot and killed by an officer who arrived at the home on West Spring Creek Parkway just after 8 p.m.

Monday afternoon Plano PD Chief Gregory Rushin held a press conference to notify media that an eighth victim had died at the hospital. The toll now stands at nine, including the gunman. 
Rushin says an officer found bodies in the yard and heard shots coming from inside the house. 
The Texas Rangers are assisting with the investigation, especially since it involved an officer, who Plano PD Chief Gregory Rushin says went into the house by himself and stopped the shooter before waiting for backup. 
"[He] made entry inside the house, confronted the suspect, ultimately shooting and killing him," Plano PD Officer David Tilley said. 
It is unclear whether the gunman returned fire. Rushin tells us multiple guns were recovered from the home. 
Monday, flowers marked the spot of the most unthinkable event to happen in the most unlikeliest of places -- Plano. 
"We've never had a shooting of this magnitude. We've never seen this many victims before," Chief Rushin said. 
Behind the police tape outside the home are still cars that line up against the road marking the spot of the shooting. These are the cars of the victims who did not make it home. 
Lane told WFAA that her daughter, 27-year-old Meredith Hight, owned the home and had recently filed for divorce from her husband. She says he showed up at her daughter's home and opened fire.

"As time passed we assumed the worst," said Meredith's mother Debbie Lane

Even the real lede of the story is buried nearly ten paragraphs deep: the shooter was recently divorced from one of the victims and he showed up with a gun and slaughtered everyone before a police officer was able to shoot and kill him.

No national outpouring of grief, and after Harvey and Irma (and Jose on the way) maybe we don't have much grief left, but this was unfathomably tragic.  It wasn't terrorism.  It wasn't Antifa or Black Lives Matter.  It wasn't any of the usual bogeymen the right blame for this.

It was a pissed off guy with a gun who went to his wife's place where he knew she would be watching football and killed eight people, a cowardly, despicable act of a truly evil person.

We don't have just a domestic terrorism problem in America, we have a domestic violence problem in America, and in both cases firearms only make these problems exponentially more deadly.

Check The Vote '17

I don't think most Americans are truly cognizant of the level of danger posed by Trump's "voter integrity commission" scam run by VP Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  They want to make it as impossible as they can for regular Americans and in particular poor, elderly, and young Americans to be able to vote at all without going through the kinds of hassles and hurdles put up in the Jim Crow era. 

I've long been warning about Republicans crafting a federal Jim Crow voting law in the wake of the annihilated Voting Rights Act, and it looks like that proposal will take the form of federal background checks before being allowed to vote in this country.

President Donald Trump’s controversial voting commission will weigh a proposal Tuesday about requiring a background check before a person can register to vote — similar to buying a gun. 
John Lott, the president of the Pennsylvania-based Crime Prevention Research Center, will present the concept when the commission holds its second meeting of the year in New Hampshire. 
Lott’s PowerPoint, which was posted on the White House’s website in advance of the meeting, includes a slide titled “How to check if the right people are voting.” 
He notes that Republicans worry that ineligible people are voting, while Democrats contend “that Republicans are just imagining things.” Lott proposes applying the federal background check system for gun purchases, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, to voter registrations. 
Lott said in a phone call that the background check system, which was established under President Bill Clinton, checks whether a person is a non-citizen and whether they have a felony conviction among other pieces of information to determine their eligibility to own a gun.

Pretty slick move, and it comes with its own strawman: How can stoopid libtards be against background checks for voting when they are the exact arguments they make for background checks for guns?

Lott, who last year published a book called “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies,” said that Democrats have praised using background checks for guns and questioned why they would oppose using the same system for voting when it’s already up and running. 
“They say it does not impinge on people’s right to self-defense… It shouldn’t be any harm in their eyes to check whether people are eligible to vote,” he said. 
“It just seems like if they believe what they’re saying it seems like a win-win.” 
Dale Ho, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, said in an email that only four states permanently ban people from voting for felony convictions. 
“For example, in Kansas, you can register to vote after finishing your sentence (including parole); but the rules on firearms are much more complicated, and have different waiting periods for different kinds of crimes,” Ho said. 
“So it’s not obvious why this would be a helpful idea for voting at all — even if you leave aside questions about practicality and possible burden on voters. Seems more like an attempted (and nonsensical) ‘gotcha’ for liberals rather than a serious suggestion,” he said.

Of course it's a gotcha nonsense argument.  But our entire government in 2017 is built on those, and expect this to become the battle cry of the right on "voter background checks" for a very long time.

The reality though is that this allows the right to frame the argument while Pence and Kobach and company come up with the real proposals that won't get attention until it's far too late.  It's a "win-win" alright...for the GOP.


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