Thursday, April 27, 2006

My new hero!

First some background:
Here in good ol' Kentucky the state legislature passes a budget every two years. This was a budget year. After much wrangling the Republicans and Democrats managed to cobble together something they could agree to vote on (in this state that qualifies as a minor miracle...). Anyway, before they voted, the Democrats, who hold a sufficient majority in the House to override any vetoes the Republican governor might make, decided they needed a break. Of course the break lasted long enough that when they got back and rewrangled over the budget (without really changing anything), they had just enough time left in the legislative session to vote on the budget before it ended. Of course once the session ended they couldn't do anything about any vetoes...

Early this week:
The governor, concerned about the level of State debt in the budget, decides he's going to veto some projects. So he gets out his big red pen and crosses out a few things. About $370 million worth of a few things. He wanted to veto more, but, gosh darn it, everything left was just so worthwhile (he actually used words to that effect). So, what did he veto? Well, about 75% of the $370 million that he vetoed was for construction projects at various State universities (including this one). You know, for stuff like classrooms, science buildings, a nursing building* etc. Of course most of that money wasn't coming from the State - it was going to be raised by selling bonds that would be paid off by the universities using funds they raised through things like tuition etc., so it wasn't really State debt... He also vetoed money for a "community center" kind of project for orphans who are wards of the State. Now one may wonder what kinds of projects he considered more worthwhile than higher education and the well-being of orphans. Clearly the $75 million slated for a new basketball arena for the University of Louisville was considered more worthwhile... Also $10 million for a new pharmacy school at the University of the Cumberlands (a private Baptist college).**

My new hero:
University of Louisville President, Jim Ramsey! He has come out and said he would prefer the money for the various vetoed projects to the new basketball arena. Good lord, a Kentucky university President who puts academics ahead of athletics!?!?!?!?! This is very much a major miracle folks. Alas, Ramsey has probably signed his death warrant. Kentucky has some of the world's most rabid basketball fans. I suspect that, even as I type this, groups of fans are gathering their pitchforks and burning torches and are marching on Ramsey's house for a good ol' fashioned lynching... If he manages to survive that, I'm sure the University of Louisville Board of Trustees will find some way to fire Ramsey within the year, especially given they are no doubt all rabid basketball fans since that seems to be the only qualification required to be on a university Board of Trustees in Kentucky...






* Did I mention that this country has such a critical shortage of nurses that some hospitals and health organizations are poaching nurses from other western countries (which have their own nurse shortages)?

** You may wonder why the State is giving $10 million to a private, church-run college. It's simple really. The Kentucky Senate Republican leader comes from the area where the University of the Cumberlands is located. He inserted this appropriation into the budget because it will buy him a bunch of votes. The governor, wanting to stay on the good side of this guy, left the money in the budget despite the majority of the Kentucky public being against it. But, you ask, given the supposed separation of church and state, surely this is an unconstitutional use of State funds? The Senate Leader says it isn't. Most law scholars say it is. The governor? In a remarkable display of his weasely nature, has said the funds are contingent upon the courts upholding their constitutionality. That way, the Senate Leader can't get mad at him when the courts say no...

3 comments:

Milo said...

he left in all the subsidies and tax breaks for the tobacco farmers, too. Didn't he?

JollyRgr said...

He's just following George W's lead really

Odyssey said...

He left ALL the pork in. He's almost worse than W - he doesn't have the spinmasters to try and make any of it look good. Even his own party thinks he's a numbnuts.

Ramsey seems to have survived the night...