Times have changed, the days of loyalty to your Governor is over, no matter how important the issues. This session is a complete failure on many fronts, most notably it will be considered a failure and a black X for Governor Beshear's first year in office. The buck stops with him and he must bear the brunt of the criticism.
- Casinos: A 30 day into the session proposal probably is the single most important reason the measure failed. The horse racing industry and the politics surrounding the number of guaranteed gaming facilities at the tracks was a catalyst to delay, obstruct, and ultimately destroy the proposed legislation. It was an orchestrated obstruction of this legislation and it ultimately damaged the relationship between the horsie set and the Governor. Without that team, Casinos will only be a discussion not a reality, ever.
- The Budget: A miserable session and the sweeping cuts issued by Governor Beshear before the session set the stage for a budget that is both anemic and porous. But some legislators managed to get their all important project money during an election year while the mentally retarded and the poor will certainly suffer the consequences of a bleak 2 year budget. But no sweeping vetoes were issued by Beshear in regards to those cuts, so it is business as usual.
- Pension Reform: Beshear is caught in the vortex of damed-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't in regards to how to lead the charge for his pet legislation. If he does too little he is called out on the floor for not being a leader and if he does too much he is kicked backed into the mansion in a fury by turf protecting legislators. So it is no surprise that pension reform died on the floor.
- Ethics Reform: Shot full of holes and useless, of course dead in the water.
- 70 cent cigarette tax increase: The only time during this session when the press sided with the Governor and praised his leadership was during the debacle of the 70 cent increase in the cigarette tax. But our childish legislative body proved the accusations of being immature obstructionists by pitching a fit at the thought of raising that tax by that amount. Why? It is an election year for many legislators and raising ANY tax can be used against them, EVEN though the majority of the Commonwealth approved of the tax increase. Amazing.
So all of Governor Steve Beshear's initiatives have been killed and nothing of substance has passed this unproductive session of the Kentucky General Assembly. Now the blood bath begins; Stumbo will likely challenge Richards for the top spot in the House and the question everyone will be asking is; will Stumbo seek Beshear's help. I would suspect Beshear to have nothing to do with that, if he is smart. But Stumbo should make his move, even though I was critical of him during the 2007 gubernatorial primary I will support that move, if only for the reason that he would stand up to King David Williams.
Now we wait for a probable extraordinary session of the Kentucky General Assembly. Does Beshear call that session and attempt to flex his executive muscles or does he fall into damage control and prepare for 2010? It will be interesting how he recovers from this terrible session and any Beshear supporter who thinks recovery is not needed, is a fool.