Friday, February 9, 2007

Harper Signs Where Others Have Broken

From Lexington Herald-Leader:

Paducah businessman Billy Harper, a Republican candidate for governor, signed a national anti-tax group's pledge not to raise levies if elected governor, earning him praise from Grover Norquist.

Norquist, the controversial small-government advocate and president of Americans for Tax Reform, applauded Harper for adding his name to the list of more than 50 Kentucky officials who have signed the pledge -- a promise that has come back to haunt many of them, including Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

The Americans for Tax Reform group last spring slammed Fletcher and 46 legislators -- including Republican Rep. Jeff Hoover, who is running as the lieutenant governor candidate with former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup against Fletcher. ATR railed against the budget, which those lawmakers and Fletcher approved, for including fee increases and a record amount of debt for bonds to cover construction projects.

The pledge for gubernatorial candidates, which is for life, requires the signer to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes."

ATR, today, noted in its press release that Fletcher approved the budget with tax increases. It also said that Northup signed a pledge while she served in Congress for 10 years but hasn't signed onto the gubernatorial promise list.

Harper has built his campaign largely on two issues: a promise to get businesses more involved in the education system and the elimination of a tax on small businesses that Fletcher's 2005 tax code change plan created. That Alternative Minimum Calculation hurts businesses because it charges a tax bill even for companies that lose money in a year, Harper says. He wants to repeal it, which would cost the state at least $120 million a year in revenue.

Meanwhile, fiscally conservative groups have been critical of Fletcher this week after his State of the Commonwealth Address Tuesday night.

"This governor was using taxpayer time on KET and valuable time of lawmakers to give a campaign stump speech," said Jim Waters, director of policy and communications at the Bluegrass Institute, a free market think tank in Bowling Green. "He really tried to buy votes. All he talked about was spending, and this isn’t even a budget year."

Fletcher told reporters this year that his funding proposals for programs -- such as $25 million for tuition assistance and $5 million for helping uninsured women receive vaccinations against cervical cancer -- are urgent.


nicholasville conservative said...

Harper is making some of the right moves. At this stage in the race, he certainly seems more genuinely conservative than either of the two opponents. Harper's positions on reducing taxes and spending are excellent.

I have been reluctant to support Harper due to his self-identification with KERA, which has been nothing short of a disaster for the commonwealth. After reading the "52 recommendations" on his website, I am willing to reconsider my pre-judgment of him. Harper may not fully understand why many conservatives believe KERA is pedagogically unsound at its core, but he has at least observed to the media that KERA is "out of date", and many of the 52 recommendations (ending the status quo system of tenure, holding the teacher-certification diploma mills "more accountable", expecting real managerial skills from the currently-empty-suit position of principal, etc.) have the potential of being real reform if enforcement "teeth" goes in to the actual enacting legislation.

I may be extrapolating Harper's positions on post-KERA reform well beyond anything he currently intends. If so, in the off chance he does get nominated and elected, in office he would have to eat all his low-spend and low-tax rhetoric; he would be merely one more politician throwing money down an educational drain.

I have not seen anything in print or the web on Harper's position on sanctity of human life. With all the pundits trying to "redefine" conservatism nowadays, we should remember that the best model for conservative success is still the one Ronald Reagan adopted, which blended in (more or less) equal proportions the two ideals of limited government and a real expectation of individual responsibility, with which legal abortion on demand is incompatible.

kyconservative said...

Nice of Harper to claim he would not raise taxes, but Anne Northup has been voting on legislation for 19 years and has NEVER voted to raise taxes. I think I'll trust her on this issue.
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