Second chances for felons and taxpayers

By Jim Waters - Bluegrass Beacon

It’s time for another edition of “Liberty Boosters and Busters,” courtesy of the 2016 session of the politically divided Kentucky General Assembly.

Liberty Booster: Cameron Mills

The University of Kentucky Wildcats may have been eliminated from this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, but ghosts of Wildcats past are alive, well and making their influence felt during this year’s General Assembly.

Cameron Mills, a walk-on guard who helped lead UK to its seventh national championship in 1998, has joined with another winning team.

Mills testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a proposal supported by a coalition made up of groups as divergent in political philosophies as citizens of the Cardinal and Wildcat nations are in their basketball-team preferences, but who agree: some nonviolent felons deserve a single shot at a second chance.

Mills told WHAS talk-show host Leland Conway that he had “an epiphany” regarding this issue while speaking with two inmates in the Kentucky State Reformatory Chapel.

The inmates, who only had about a month left in prison, dreaded their future freedom.

“’I don’t have a chance when I get out,’” Mills said each man told him. “And the reason they didn’t have a chance is because these things were going to be on their records. They can’t get a job. …They’re not going to be able to afford to live, most likely. This is why so many go back to a life of crime. It’s just easier that way. And that’s what we want to avoid—is it not?”

Yes, it is.

Liberty Buster: Rep. Darryl Owens

Owens, a Louisville Democrat, ironically is sponsoring both sound criminal-justice reform legislation supported by basketball star Mills and the very unsound House Bill 6 that seeks to preserve former Gov. Steve Beshear’s Obamacare-induced, unilaterally enacted expansion of Kentucky’s Medicaid program, which resulted in 432,000 new recipients and a total enrollment of 1.3 million Kentuckians, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Beshear’s expansion happened via the former governor’s executive order and without the legislature—the only body constitutionally authorized to spend tax dollars.

According to the Cabinet’s numbers, $10.4 billion in combined state and federal tax dollars will be spent this year alone on Kentucky Medicaid, which nearly equals the commonwealth’s entire General Fund budget…for the entire year!

All of this will happen while the federal government is still covering 100 percent of the cost of Beshear’s 432,000 new enrollees.

No one, including Owens and the entrenched big-spending House leadership, knows how high Kentucky’s Medicaid bills ultimately will rise, especially when the commonwealth’s taxpayers are required to start picking up some of the freight for those new enrollees in future years.

Beshear certainly didn’t offer a realistic plan on how to pay for his mammoth unconstitutional expansion.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s conservative approach requires Medicaid recipients able to carry more of their own weight—which includes many of the newest enrollees—to cover small copays and, in some cases, pay a portion of premiums for services that currently are totally free, courtesy of we, the taxpayers.

The Bevin administration also correctly discounts erroneous claims by Obamacare apologists like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which issued a new report containing unsupported claims that expanded government-run health insurance programs bolster Kentucky’s economy.

Isn’t this the same foundation that tossed $13 million toward Obamacare’s proliferation?

Why, yes! Yes, it is!

Shouldn’t a healthy dose of skepticism emerge about an organization wanting us to drink its Kool-Aid offered in the form of powdery “research” showing that a mammoth part of the same big-government program it funded and propagated is good medicine for our commonwealth’s economy?

Why, yes! Yes, it should!

By Jim Waters

Bluegrass Beacon

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at

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