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January 24, 2018

The Flu Bug - Don't Touch Porn Stars, Celebrities or Politicians

Where have people's hands been? When you shake hands with someone at church, the grocery store or a restaurant what kind of germs are they carrying?


I once shook hands with Hillary Clinton and my wife told me to immediately go and wash my hands. She reminded me that her hands had been on Bill Clinton and that I wasn't touching her until I washed my hands.

Think about the people with whom you shake hands. Would you shake hands with Harvey Weinstein? What kind of serious offensive disease might you contact? Would you shake hands with Anthony Weiner? What about Bill Cosby? Kathy Griffin? Now our President has been accused of having an affair with a porn star a few years back. There are reports she is starting up a tour to parade herself around the country naked to make money from the allegations. Have the President's hands been on a porn star? What happened to the $130,000 hush money that was allegedly paid to her? The truth about hush money is there is no such thing as hush money. If someone is trying to blackmail you there is no such thing as paying somebody to keep quiet because eventually they tell everything they know. How many people have come out in the last couple of years talking about stuff they had received money to keep quiet about? Several. They didn't keep quiet and I bet they spent the money.

What about our elected politicians? They lie to us all the time. They lie about how they want to help us. They lie to us about how much they care. They lie about where the money comes from and where it's going. They make any promise under the sun for your vote. Do you really want to shake hands with these people? What kind of crud are they carrying?

Today would be a good day to take a break from shaking hands and hugging strangers - at least through about April. Simply put - you don't need the flu or the crud that is going around this country.

My wife and I visited a church last week down the street and about 25 people shook hands with us. This was very nice of course. People like to feel welcomed when visiting a church. Many churches have what they call fellowship time when people turn around and shake hands with those around them. Many people enjoy this and greeting people they know or meeting new people. Unfortunately this time of year you could be shaking hands with death.

Germs can be contacted anywhere. From the grocery store cart to sitting next to people at sporting events or the movie theatre there are germs. Few people want to lock themselves in the house with disinfecting wipes or cans of Lysol. On the other hand nobody enjoys what comes with the Flu.

Almost everyday that I turn on the news one of the top three leading stories is about somebody dying from the flu or the hospitals being overrun with sick people. So far this year 30 children have died from influenza. Last season 110 children died. Every year according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 12,000 to 49,000 people will die from influenza. Seven hundred thousand people could end up in the hospital according to CDC. So many older Americans are impacted that the cases of sickness and deaths of seniors can only be estimated.

While the CDC has statistics on the growing number of influenza cases, we are not totally sure about all the numbers of people infected with various kinds of diseases by shaking hands with or touching many of America's celebrities, politicians and porn stars.

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Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

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January 23, 2018

 FRANKFORT, Kentucky — Many retired teachers would pay thousands of dollars per year more for health insurance under Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed 2018-20 state budget, say advocates for retired teachers.

While Bevin’s proposed budget fully funds pension benefits for teachers for the next two years, it provides no state dollars for retired teacher health insurance.

This budget cut would hit teachers who have retired since July 1, 2010, and are not yet 65 — when teachers qualify for Medicare coverage.

“In 2010 we passed a ‘shared responsibility’ plan that required all of us to share a part of retiree health care so that this would never have to have this happen again,” said Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association. “…Now this proposed budget would strip away the state funding and it means that anyone who retired after 2010 could potentially have to pay all of their health insurance costs.”

Tim Abrams, executive director of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association said in a news release on Monday that the proposed cut would be “devastating for a retired teacher on a fixed income … putting the financial livelihood of thousands of retired teachers in real jeopardy if this budget is enacted.”

Abrams said under the proposal “a single teacher drawing a pension of $3,000 a month could pay up to an additional $500 a month for health insurance, which adds up to $6,000 per year.” Affected retired teachers under a “parent plus” plan would pay $800 a month more, or $9,600 a year, Abrams said.

The Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System had requested $145.5 million in state funding for retiree health insurance under the law passed in 2010 under which teachers, retired teachers, local school districts and the state all agreed to contribute to a plan to restore financial stability to the retired teachers' health insurance fund.

Lawmakers on the state’s Public Pension Oversight Board said Monday that this proposed cut has stirred a flurry of complaints in the week since the governor unveiled his proposed spending plan.

Sen. Joe Bowen, the Owensboro Republican who co-chairs the pension oversight board, said he has been surprised by the objections because Bevin’s budget fully funds teacher pension benefits.

And Bowen emphasized that retired teacher health benefits have never been part of what is known as the “inviolable contract” – a bedrock principle in state pension law that protects pension benefits given a public employee at the time they were hired. Bowen complained that the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System has not done enough to make that point clear to its members.

But Rep. James Kay, a Versailles Democrat, told Bowen that the reason for the complaints is obvious: “Teachers are not going to be happy when you don’t fund their health insurance.”

Kay asked Bevin Budget Director John Chilton, who is also a member of the pension oversight board, why the teacher retiree health benefit was not funded. Chilton said that “there was just not enough funding” available to pay for all needs and requests, and he noted that funding for the retiree health benefit was not required by the “inviolable contract.”

After Monday’s meeting, Bowen said he personally has not yet decided on whether funding for teacher retiree health benefits ought to be restored to the budget by lawmakers as they revise the Bevin plan in the next two months.

“The budget the governor rolled out in his budget address the other night was the first step in this process. So if you’re asking if there’s a chance that that will be restored I would have to say, yeah, there is a chance,” Bowen said. “That will be part of crunching all the numbers. And I’m not going to take a position on that today.”

Winkler said, “We’re glad they’ve fully funded pensions. … We’re happy about that. What we’re not happy about is doing it on the backs of this budget item and so many other education programs in this budget.”

Like so many others who are complaining about the deep cuts in Bevin’s proposed budget, Winkler and Abrams each said Monday that the solution is for the General Assembly to pass tax reforms or other new sources of revenue to restore funding for worthy programs.

Bevin emphasized in his budget address that tax reform remains a top priority once the legislature gets moving on a pension reform bill and the state budget bill. Bevin said if lawmakers do not have time to tackle tax reform during this session, he plans to propose tax reform at a special legislative session later this year.

By Tom Loftus
Courier-Journal

 

January 17, 2018

Govenor's proposed budget is 'a disgrace' -- Dem. Rep. says

 

By Rep. Jim Wayne
Cell: 502-303-3732

One of my favorite spots in Kentucky is on top of a steep knob overlooking the Rolling Fork River valley in Marion County. The reward of a strenuous hike to this peak is sitting on a limestone Veteran Democratic state lawmaker Jim Wayne has announced he won't run for election next year after 27 years representing residents of Louisville's Highlands and south Louisville.  Wayne, sometimes called the conscience of the Kentucky General Assembly, has been a tireless advocate for tax reform in Kentucky, stricter gun laws, social justice initiatives, better mental health services and programs for the poor and disadvantaged.Veteran Democratic state lawmaker Jim Wayne has announced he won't run for election next year after 27 years representing residents of Louisville's Highlands and south Louisville. Wayne, sometimes called the conscience of the Kentucky General Assembly, has been a tireless advocate for tax reform in Kentucky, stricter gun laws, social justice initiatives, better mental health services and programs for the poor and disadvantaged.outcropping on a clear winter day seeing the log home of my great great grandparents, the wide river valley pasture below, spotted with Angus cows and, beyond the river, the forests and fields of Casey County. This spot is a place of inspiration and imagination.

My ancestors migrated to this land of knobs and lush valleys because they sought a better way of living for themselves and their children. Kentucky offered opportunities to farm, build communities and financial security.

Nearly 200 years later, as I sit staring through the naked trees on the land I love, I question why our Commonwealth has failed to live up to its potential. Why do we have nearly one in four of our children living in dire poverty? Why do we have such a sick people? Why are opportunities for higher education so expensive? Why are so many of our public schools struggling? Why are so many suffering mental illness? Why are our young people being sent to early graves by guns and drugs? Why do our prisons continue to house far too many? Why are our political leaders so short sighted and lacking vision to invest in our people?

As a state legislator for over 27 years I am frustrated and angry with a status quo in Frankfort that condemns so many to limited economic and academic opportunities, poor mental and physical health, violence and environmental degradation.

Right wing Republicans and timid Democrats wait for the free market to miraculously save us, like Deus ex machina, in a Greek drama.

The free market will not rescue us. It never has and never will because it is based on profit and greed, not the common good. Economists, health experts and sociologists from each end of the political spectrum have been telling us for years about our downward spiral. Still the power brokers of Frankfort refuse to act, or perhaps more accurately, do not have the leadership abilities and moral courage to act to raise revenue and invest in our people.

The budget proposed by our Republican governor is a disgrace. It does everything to make the state of our Commonwealth worse: disinvesting in education, healthcare, environmental protections, public protections, the courts, child and adult protections, foster care, transportation and drug rehab.

Instead of building coalitions of citizen and legislative groups to enact fair, adequate and modern tax reforms to boost the amount of money to invest in Kentucky, these Republicans (and some Democratic accomplices) starve our people of life giving programs and services. This strategy is killing people. This strategy feeds the decline of our Commonwealth further, moving us closer to becoming a third world country.

No state budget should be passed this legislative session without first revamping our tax system. Do the leaders in Frankfort have the skill and moral fiber to tackle this long delayed policy emergency?

If they refuse or can’t, as so many leaders in both parties have refused or couldn’t during the last 20 years, then the people of Kentucky must replace them. The time for redirecting our resources and energies into our people is now. Delaying compounds our many troubles and pushes us further behind in every category of wellness as a people.

The hopes and dreams in the hearts of my ancestors who settled in the geographic center of Kentucky are my hopes and dreams as we face the challenges before us: to build a community of caring, well educated, thriving people in a state with an abundance of natural resources, beauty and talent. Unless we collectively invest in ourselves we face a present and a future of increased poverty, ill health and ignorance, a widening economic gap, and environmental degradation.

What can you do? Raise the bar on your legislators. Tell them to refuse the governor’s budget proposal and demand tax reform now so we save ourselves.

 

January 19, 2018

"While the March for Life took place on Capitol grounds today, my colleagues and I stood with them on the House floor, voting to protect the sanctity of life," said Congressman Rogers"While the March for Life took place on Capitol grounds today, my colleagues and I stood with them on the House floor, voting to protect the sanctity of life," said Congressman Rogers

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, as thousands of Americans filled the National Mall in support of the annual March for Life in Washington, DC, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, H.R. 4712 . The pro-life legislation mandates medical care and legal protection for any child born alive during an attempted abortion procedure, while protecting mothers from prosecution and holding abortionists accountable who do not utilize life-saving measures for infants that survive.

"While the March for Life took place on Capitol grounds today, my colleagues and I stood with them on the House floor, voting to protect the sanctity of life," said Congressman Rogers. "This legislation takes another step to protect these innocent babies, by charging practioners who fail to report or provide life-saving measures for the rare abortion survivors. Every life deserves a voice and a fighting chance of survival."

Last year, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives reported abortions and abortion facilities are being incentivized by illicit fetal-tissue traffickers to harvest infant organs. H.R. 4712 will hold those practicitioners accountable.

Last year, Rogers also voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act , restricting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Both bills now await consideration by the U.S. Senate.

 

January 17, 2018

Bevin calls for eliminating 70 programs, spending cuts to fund pension reform

FRANKFORT, Ky. — 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.

...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 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.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.

Bevin emphasized during his speech a handful of areas that he said were in dire need and would get increases. Those areas are:

— Foster care and adoption services, which would get $10.8 million in additional funding.

— Efforts to fight the opioid abuse crisis would see $34 million over two years.

— Public safety would be enhanced with money to hire 75 prosecutors and 51 public defenders and to buy new vehicles and weapons for state police. 

— Social workers: The state agency caring for Kentucky's "most vulnerable citizens" will get an increase of $24 million to raise salaries of social workers and hire more of them. In some cases, workers could get 10 percent to 20 percent raises.

The governor also said the budget of the tiny Executive Branch Ethics Commission will be increased, and he said his budget will call for a $100 million workforce development bond issue — money that will be matched by other public sector partners — or private sector partners, to build facilities to train workers.

While he said the budget will not cut SEEK funding, as many education advocates have feared, the governor did not talk about how his budget treats many other important areas of the K-12 budget.

He emphasized that his budget will force cuts on administrative costs at the local level, drawing on what he said are about $950 million in reserve funds held by local school districts. And he blasted Jefferson County Public Schools for having more than 600 administrators making $100,000 per year or more.

This money will allow the state to reduce what it spends on student transportation and employee health insurance, he said.

And Bevin said that his budget will not cut scholarships funded by the Kentucky Lottery.

The main part of the state budget is how it proposes to spend about $22.3 billion in state General Fund tax revenues between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2020. It now goes to the House budget committee, which will review it for several weeks, and make changes, and send it to the House floor for passage. The budget must then go through the same process in the Senate. If history is any indication, it will be very late in the session before the budget is passed. The session is scheduled to end April 13.

And the key difference in this budget from others is that it apparently adds hundreds of millions to what the state spends per year on pensions.

Bevin is apparently fully funding what actuaries say is needed by the state plans over the next two years under a new funding approach that requires massive new outlays in the next few years.

Bevin Budget Director John Chilton has said this move will cost about $700 million more in state General Fund dollars per year if fully funded starting next year.

In addition to the huge boost for pension funding, Bevin said his budget restores a balance of $250 million to the state’s “Rainy Day” reserve fund — a move that credit rating agencies say is important for the state’s financial stability.

By Tom Loftus
Courier Journal

 Here is the list of 70 programs on Bevin's hit list:

Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed two-year state budget would provide no state funding of any kind for these 70 programs. In addition, Bevin has proposed 6.25 percent spending cuts for most state agencies.


(1) County Fair Grants within the Department of Agriculture

(2) Farmer’s Market Senior Program within the Department of Agriculture

(3) ARC of Kentucky

(4) Kentucky Lung Cancer Education Awareness Detection Survivorship Collaborative

(5) Norton Kosair Children’s Hospital Poison Control Center

(6) Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program

(7) Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program

(8) Madison County Early Intervention Services

(9) Lung Cancer Research within the Council on Postsecondary Education

(10) Washington D.C. Internships within the Council on Postsecondary Education

(11) Professional Education Preparation within the Council on Postsecondary Education

(12) Minority Student College Preparation within the Council on Postsecondary Education

(13) Autism Training Center within the Council on Postsecondary Education

(14) Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars within the Council on Postsecondary Education

(15) Community Operations Board at Eastern Kentucky University

(16) Adult Agriculture at the Kentucky Community and Technical College 10 System

(17) Kentucky Coal Academy at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System

(18) Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University

(19) Kentucky Center for Mathematics at Northern Kentucky University

(20) University Press at the University of Kentucky

(21) Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky

(22) Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Kentucky

(23) Hospital Direct Support at the University of Kentucky

(24) Agriculture Public Service at the University of Kentucky

(25) Kentucky Mesonet at Western Kentucky University

(26) Trover Clinic

(27) Mining Engineering Scholarships at the University of Kentucky

(28) Robinson Scholars at the University of Kentucky

(29) Family Medical Residency in Owensboro

(30) State Planning Fund in the Office of State Budget Director

(31) Area Development Fund in the Department for Local Government

(32) Conservation Districts Local Aid

(33) State Tree Nurseries

(34) Environmental Education Council

(35) Libraries – Direct Local Aid Non-Construction State Aid (excluding debt service)

(36) Kentucky Teacher Internships within the Educational Professional Standards Board

(37) County Costs – Sheriff’s Expense Allowance

(38) Commission on Women

(39) Kentucky Legal Education Opportunity Fund

(40) Access to Justice

(41) Life Safety or Closed Jails

(42) Local Jailers Allowance

(43) Instructional Resources (Textbooks) within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(44) Professional Development Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(45) Appalachian Learning Disabled Tutoring Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(46) Commonwealth School Improvement Fund within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(47) Community Education Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(48) Collaborative Center for Literacy Development within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(49) Go Higher within Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority

(50) Work Study scholarships within the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority

(51) Teacher Scholarships within the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority

(52) Early Childhood Development scholarships within the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority

(53) Whitehaven Welcome Center

(54) Bluegrass State Games

(55) Frankfort-based cafeterias within the Department of Parks

(56) Insurance subsidy program within the Personnel Cabinet

(57) School Technology in Coal Counties

(58) Coal County College Completion Scholarship Program

(59) Arts Council Marketing Program

(60) Georgia Chafee Teenage Parent Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(61) Leadership and Mentor Fund within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(62) Middle School Academic Center within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(63) Teacher’s Professional Growth Fund within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(64) Teacher Academies Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(65) Teacher Recruitment and Retention Program-Educator Quality and Diversity within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(66) Virtual Learning Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(67) Writing Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(68) Lexington Hearing and Speech Center within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services;

(69) Heuser Hearing and Language Academy within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services

(70) Teach for America within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services