Solving the state's budget crunch (Part one of a series)
Our state's clueless governor continued his poor-mouthing of the state's financial picture this week, saying the revenue estimates issued by the Consensus Forecasting Group are better than expected but still not good enough. (No doubt he'll continue his drumbeat for casino gambling in the state as he still frantically tries to get gambling approved in Kentucky to appease those who financed his 2007 campaign and who he will want to pony up the cash in two years.)
While we are still very skeptical of the doomsday scenario Steve Beshear continues to lay out, we do agree that there are lots of places where the state could cut budges and make financial improvements. We'll be offering ideas to our intellectually-challenged governor over the next several weeks.
One way the state could cut costs is to restrict state vehicle usage. Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration made great strides in this regard. They put severe limits on the number of people who could drive state vehicles home and back to work. By the end of the Fletcher administration, basically the only people who could drive a vehicle after hours were those who were subject to being called out for an emergency during the night, such as traffic signal technicians and county maintenance garage superintendents. Others had to drive their personal vehicles to and from work, just as most of the rest of us out in the world have to do.
Under the Beshear administration, this trend has been slowly being reversed. More and more people are being given permission to drive their state vehicles home, or even to use them for personal errands during lunch. Some of these people drive long distances; commutes of an hour or so. While it's great for them because they are not buying gas or wearing out their own vehicles, it's a burden on the taxpayers.
It's time for the use of state vehicles to be restricted to business use only. Only those with legitimate emergency needs should be able to drive to and from work in a state car or truck. No employee should be allowed to drive their personal vehicle to work and then take their state vehicle to Wendy's or Walmart during lunch.
When state employees hear tales of woe about the state's budget and wonder why they aren't getting their statutory raises, then see a select few abusing their state vehicles, morale is shot and the workers become even more unproductive. And they wonder about the colossal waste of money they see under their noses.
It's time for the Beshear administration to put curbs on the personal use of state vehicles, for appearances as well as for budgetary reasons.