FRANKFORT — This and that while waiting for the big thaw:
Didn't it just warm the cockles of your heart to learn gubernatorial candidates Matt Bevin and Jack Conway made a joint pilgrimage to the Court of King Coal (in Virginia, no less) to kiss his ring in a private ceremony attended by select members of coalfields nobility?
I sure feel better knowing the Governor's Mansion will keep the lights on for his majesty no matter which candidate wins in November.
As for Kentuckians adversely impacted by the monarch's ravaging appetite, let them eat coal dust. The state's ring-kissing political leaders have been force-feeding them this diet for so long they ought to be used to it by now. Looks like the menu won't change after November. Unfortunately.
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Conway, the Democratic state attorney general, says he will release three years of income tax returns next week and will continue to release his returns if elected governor. Bevin, a Republican businessman, says he will release his returns if elected the state's chief executive. But he told cn|2 Pure Politics he sees no value "whatsoever" in releasing them now.
No value? How about the value of the voters' trust? Quite simply, a gubernatorial candidate who refuses to release tax returns during a campaign cannot be trusted to honor a promise to release tax returns if elected.
The candidate who makes lame excuses before an election will come up with new lame excuses once in office.
No tax returns from Bevin should translate into no trust from voters.
Following a nasty 2014 U.S. Senate primary, Bevin did not endorse Sen. Mitch McConnell in the general election. (Bevin now says he did, but there is no record of it. Which means his current claims raise another "trust" issue for him.)
After a recanvass confirmed Bevin's 83-vote victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary, McConnell issued a one-sentence statement: "I congratulate Matt Bevin on his victory and endorse him for governor."
Then, Bevin skipped a scheduled appearance at an Elizabethtown Rotary Club luncheon where McConnell spoke. And McConnell missed the statewide Lincoln Day Dinner billed as a Republican unity rally, ostensibly to prepare for a Sunday Senate session prompted in part by fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul's ultimately successful opposition to renewal of the controversial Patriot Act.
McConnell's uninspiring statement and the two Republican political ships passing in the night without contact could be pure coincidences. My guess, though, is they mean this particular thaw could take some serious time despite Bevin's clever video attempt at defusing the antipathy between the two men, which drew serious chuckles at the Lincoln Day Dinner.
Kentucky has been moaning the budgetary blues for longer than my aging memory can wrap its brain synapses around. (Additional sign of mental deterioration for a now semi-retired journalist: ending a sentence with a preposition and not bothering to figure out a way to avoid it.)
Still, the current fiscal year's General Fund budget is a bit more than $10 billion. The immediate past FY budget was a bit less than $10 billion. Annual budgets exceeding $9 billion have been common for several years.
Compared to such numbers, $1.6 million is chump change you find under sofa pillows. And $800,000 is what you put in the parking meter to avoid a ticket during the next 30 minutes.
On Monday, Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for the lowest paid state workers from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour and more than doubling the minimum for tipped employees (mostly in state park restaurants) from $2.19 an hour to $4.90 an hour.
The total cost to the state is about $1.6 million, with less than $800,000 coming from the General Fund budget.
Applause! Applause! Seriously. This is a long overdue lead-by-example action from Beshear.
Here's the thing, though. Raising the minimum wage has been a Democratic priority for years. So, any time after he won re-election in 2011, Beshear could have issued this executive order with impunity and with the full expectation of being protected by the Democratic-controlled House from any Republican-controlled Senate's attempt to overturn his order. At a cost to the General Fund budget of feeding a parking meter.
So, forgive my cynicism for wondering if the timing of this executive order and the governor's statewide press-conference tour touting it is all about burnishing the family name at a time when his son, Andy Beshear, is running for attorney general. Just saying.
Former Legislative Research Commission Director Bobby Sherman resigned in September 2013 in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal. The agency has had an interim director ever since. Just over a week ago, the members of legislative leadership who comprise the LRC agreed to look for a permanent replacement for Sherman.
In a race between Kentucky legislative leaders and a snail, bet on the snail. It's a mortal lock.
Speaking of betting on races, thank you, American Pharoah for proving a Triple Crown is still possible. Hope I live long enough to see another horse make it a baker's dozen.