He focused on gambling and how deep spending cuts will effect the commonwealth, but Governor Steve Beshear made more news by omission than anything else. During his fifth State Of The Commonwealth speech, Beshear informed the General Assembly that there will be very deep cuts in spending during the coming budget cycle. He also renewed his call for expanded gaming several times.
The gaming is old hat for Beshear, but he used the potential budget cuts to soften the ground for a possible vote on gaming this time instead of plugging in non-existing gambling dollars to a phantom budget. Remember, he did that once before and was nearly laughed out of Frankfort. This time around he’s trying to get gaming started in the Senate then bring it to a joint conference committee to get a concensus. Will it work? hard to say but if I were a betting man–pun intended–I’d say no.
As for the possible cuts? It’s being rumoured they could go as deep as nine percent across the board. Again this might be an intentional leak to soften the ground. If the nine percent figure is loud enough, anything Beshear comes out with that’s lower makes him look like a hero.
It’s what he left out of the speech that’s more interesting. No mention of coal. None at all. Nada-zip-zilch. Strange for a man who has ridden coal for all it’s worth as an election issue in the past. Beshear also says it’s time to reform the tax code, but gave no details on just how he plans to accomplish this. Also nothing on the Ohio River Brideges project or the hospital merger. Granted some of these details could show up in two weeks when the Governor makes his biannual budget speech to a joint session, but I wouldn’t expect too much there either. More likely there will be slow but steady leaks–like the possible cuts–that will steadily come from Frankfort. Death by a thousand cuts if you will.
The difference this time around for Beshear is no re-election bid to protect. He can let things fly if he really wants to make some changes. The question is will he do that, or will he jjust coast through his last four years? We’ll know more in two weeks.