Kicking the Can Down the Road

The Gov announced yesterday that he wants the Leg to move $166 million from next year’s Medicaid budget to this year’s, so the state can get more money in Federal matching funds this year. And as much as David Williams wants to use this to score political points, the bill is a good idea and should pass. Why would we want to take 70% matching funds when we can get 80%?

Here’s the larger problem, though — what about the rest of the shortfall? This move will put next year’s budget about $550 million short, even with Federal funds. In a $6 billion Medicaid budget, that’s almost 10%. How is the Beshear administration going to deal with it? Through the always-popular “savings” — the same non-answer that apparently politicians think is a magic word.

What savings? Where? Which programs? Which benefits? Which employees? Which recipients? Are we really expected to believe that the administration can find $550 million in “savings” WITHOUT cutting the program in some way? Really? I didn’t know copy paper cost so much.

Draconian cuts aren’t the answer, but neither is fairy dust and kicking the can down the road. It’s time, once again, for someone in Frankfort to step forward with a coherent plan to better manage our state’s budget — tax structure, ongoing programs and entitlements, education, the works. I don’t trust the Republicans to do it, since their stated intention is to drown government in a bathtub. But apparently, the Democrats don’t have the courage to do it either. And once again, the biggest deficit in this state isn’t money — it’s leadership.