Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Kansas Plan for Kentucky

Compared to True Randian Believer Matt Bevin, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is a big-gubmint liberal.  Four years from now, we'll be lucky if at worst we're as bad off as Kansas.

Every time one of Governor Lying Coward's proposals comes up in the Kentucky General Assembly, Democratic members should just stand up and shout "KANSAS!"

If you aren’t worried about the future of Kansas, here are some reasons to start

Mismanagement and chronic fiscal problems in Kansas are eroding the state’s ability to serve the public.

The situation is no longer one of short-term budget pain, as states typically experience in a recession. The financial problems are severe and deep-seated. They are pushing officials to make decisions that will harm Kansas and its citizens well into the future.

Misplaced priorities and poor leadership make matters worse. Some legislators say they are alarmed by turnover in crucial state agencies. Many capable employees have departed, leaving those in place often unable to deal with the crises that are arising with increasing frequency.

Conservative Republicans in the Legislature, who pushed for the deep income tax cuts at the heart of the dysfunction, are fond of saying that government needs to be run more like a business.

But in fact no business could get away with failing as spectacularly as Kansas has. The management team would be shown the door, something Kansas voters failed to do when they narrowly re-elected Gov. Sam Brownback in 2014.

Voters will have opportunities to turn over many legislative seats in elections later this year. It is crucial to recruit and elect candidates who will help reverse the damage of recent years.

Without a dramatic correction, the state will continue to spiral downward. Here we highlight a few of the areas of concern.

Road to ruin?

The raids on the state’s transportation fund in order to pay other bills are well known. Brownback and the Legislature have plundered $1.4 billion from the Kansas Department of Transportation over six years.

But now the state is engaging in even riskier practices. A little-noticed provision slipped into the budget last year opened a window for unlimited borrowing of highway construction bonds. KDOT quickly issued a record $400 million in bonds in December.

The bond rating agency Fitch reported that highway officials had disclosed that “the increase is partly tied to the state’s plan to transfer additional funds to the state’s General Fund,” meaning the administration is borrowing to funnel money through KDOT for other expenses.

Even more irresponsible is the structure of the bond issue, which requires the state to pay only interest for 10 years and begin paying off the principal after that.

KDOT Secretary Mike King told lawmakers the state will have finished paying on other bonds in 10 years time. But Kansas has rarely taken such risks in the past.

The increased borrowing isn’t reflected in highway work. While its schedule calls for repairing 1,200 miles of roads a year, the state this year is fixing only 200 miles. At that rate it won’t take long for Kansas roads to fall into serious disrepair.

Power outage

In a move that has legislators from both parties seething, Brownback’s administration last month signed a $20 million lease-purchase agreement with Bank of America to construct a new state power plant in Topeka. Never before has Kansas turned to a lease-purchase agreement to finance long-term debt.

Lawmakers weren’t consulted about the deal, which will put the cash-strapped state on the hook for $1.32 million in annual payments through 2031. The arrangement will likely require the state to demolish the aging Docking State Office Building, although not all lawmakers want to do that.

The unilaterally arranged lease agreement is typical of Brownback’s imperious management style and his inclination toward budget denial. The state’s projected revenue shortfall through July 2017 could exceed $200 million. This is hardly the time to take on a new long-term debt payment.

But canceling the lease reportedly would cost more than $400,000. So it appears to be a done deal.

Waiting game

The rollout of a new computer system for processing eligibility for Kansas’ privatized Medicare program, KanCare, has become a nightmare.

The system took years longer to build than anticipated, and costs are running about 25 percent over budget.

About 10,000 applications are pending. Advocates for disabled and elderly Kansans say clients are inexplicably being dropped from coverage. They find out they are uninsured when they visit their doctor or try to fill a prescription.

People are complaining of four-hour waits to get someone on the telephone and often no resolution of their issues once they do.

Other states, including Missouri, have experienced technical difficulties as they have upgraded software to comply with changes brought about by the federal health care law and other developments.

But fixing the problems will require money, manpower and expertise. Right now Kansas is short in all of those areas.

Point of no return?

Low pay for employees and disinvestment have created situations where Kansas is actually paying more than it should to provide minimal services.

Kansas once was heralded for offering treatment and services that helped keep former inmates out of prison. But much of that was stopped by budget cuts even before Brownback took office. Now the state pays more to support increased prison populations.

And because Kansas’ salaries are lower than in neighboring states, its prisons are beset with staff shortages that require corrections officers to work overtime at higher rates.

Staff shortages are most acute at the state’s two hospitals for people with severe psychiatric problems. Nurses and support staff at the state hospitals in Larned and Osawatomie work so many extra hours that concerns for staff and patient safety are well founded.

Because of security breaches at Osawatomie, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut off Medicare payments for patients. The state must now pick up the cost, about $600,000 a month.

“It is possible to cut past the point of efficiency and create costly problems,” said Kansas Rep. Melissa Rooker, a Republican from Fairway. “It’s my belief that we’re there.”

Indeed, there is no other valid conclusion. Services are breaking down in Kansas, and the longer the financial and management ineptitude continue, the harder it will be to restore them.
So, you fail to fund services at their most basic levels and that, in turn, leads to more costs down the line. Why, it’s almost as if giving massive tax cuts to the rich and emptying the government’s coffers does not actually work and instead creates a state of constant shortfall and chaos! Naw, that can’t be it. We should probably just let Brownback singlehandedly enact some more tax cuts and then everything will get sorted, right?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Electing Evil

Austerity Always Fails, But Bevin Still Demands It

Because austerity works great for a handful of billionaires like Governor Lying Coward, who is perfectly fine with austerity destroying the middle class and turning workers into serfs.

Any business person knows that when costs are rising faster than revenue, you should raise revenue and not just cut costs.

But year after year, Kentucky governors and legislators think they can slash spending, dole out more tax breaks and keeping putting off overhaul of a tax system that no longer grows with the economy. The math will never work.

Former Gov. Steve Beshear spent eight years cutting more than $1.5 billion in state spending. In 2012, he appointed the bi-partisan Blue Ribbon Commission to again study the often-studied need for tax reform. The commission recommended solutions that would have raised annual revenue by more than $650 million — solutions that have so far been ignored.

Gov. Matt Bevin last month proposed $650 million in additional spending cuts. He included modest increases for some areas hit hard by previous cuts. He also directed money to start fixing pension plans that are in crisis after years of under-funding by lawmakers. But overall, his budget was the latest variation of the same old strategy: rob Peter to pay Paul.
 Conservative economics always fails.

I’ve written frequently about the abject failures of the Brownback administration in Kansas, showcasing not only the immorality but also the practical incompetence of conservative economic theory applied.

Scott Walker has also famously been failing in Wisconsin, where the state’s economy has been in a tailspin as a result of his disastrous policies. 

SNIP

As Paul Krugman would be quick to point out, this deficit is not the result of overspending, but rather economic malaise directly caused by Scott Walker’s doctrinaire economic theories that have weakened job protections, confidence and consumer demand.

But true to form, Wisconsin Republicans are reacting to the situation not by fixing what they broke, but by proposing a balanced budget amendment that would only make the situation much, much worse.

SNIP
 
Balanced budget amendments, of course, are an awful idea that tie governments into straitjackets, preventing them from engaging in deficit spending precisely when it is most needed to offset private sector economic downturns. Conservatives believe in a magic market fairy dust in which government can only distort an economy that would otherwise thrum with perfect efficiency in its absence, and in which the greatest dangers are inflation and deficits, rather than the real threats posed by deflation, high inequality and weak consumer demand.

It’s not just an immoral worldview. It’s a failure at a practical level as well. Kansas and Wisconsin are proving that fact every day.
And Matt Bevin, our only governor, is determined to make Kentucky the next example of repug economics destroying a state.

Bevin Doesn't Know What the Fuck He's Doing, Part 15

Yeah, government bringing basic modern utilities to every home lacking affordable access to that utility never works.  Everybody remembers the utter catastrophe of Rural Electrification. Millions of rural families brought into the 20th century and desperate communities getting a permanent economic boost. What a tragedy.  If only Governor Lying Coward had been there to turn the project over to his corporate buddies so only rich people could have electricity.  Because they earned it.

Bill Estep at the Herald:

Gov. Matt Bevin said Friday that he wants to scale back an ambitious plan to build a high-speed broadband network around the state to instead focus on Eastern Kentucky.

Bevin said the original idea behind what ultimately became the KentuckyWired project was to provide broadband to Eastern Kentucky, where counties that long relied on the coal industry have been slammed by a sharp drop in coal jobs.

Many leaders in the region see high-speed Internet service as a crucial need in creating opportunities for new jobs in technology, health care and other fields.

However, that idea “morphed” into a plan to install 3,400 miles of fiber-optic cable around the state, which made it “somewhat untenable,” Bevin said after a meeting of the board of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative.

“There weren’t enough dollars nor was there an ability to do that as effectively as anyone would have liked,” Bevin said of the statewide project. “My intent is to see it come back more to its original intent, and let’s start there.”
More lies from the motherfucking liar.  There's plenty of money in Kentucky for public projects - money that has been stolen by rich people and corporations not paying their fair share in taxes and getting even more obscenely rich on state contracts that rip off the taxpayers. 
Bevin said it is his “absolute intention” to make sure broadband comes to Eastern Kentucky.
Yep, lots of very expensive broadband installed at huge public expensive by thieving corporations with state contracts.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article58768608.html#storylink=cpy

And poor people in Kentucky's rural areas will still be shut out.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article58768608.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Whom We're Deporting

Digby's right; this is a disgrace

Private First Class Andres De Leon, 72, signed up for the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam when he turned 18-years-old at a time many were trying to avoid the war. He served for 12 years and spent two full years overseas before being honorably discharged. Like many veterans, he suffers from depression, that spiraled out of control when his mother passed away. But unlike most veterans, his depression led to him being deported.

De Leon may have moved to Madera, California with his family legally when he was 12-years-old but he was deported when he became addicted to heroin to medicate his depression and was eventually arrested for possession. Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) lists this as a valid reason for deportation and three years into his sentence at Soledad State Prison, ICE came knocking.

By 2009, an immigration judge ordered De Leon back to Mexico where he hasn’t lived for over 50 years. He’s living in Tijuana today in a one room apartment after spending his first few weeks homeless and on the streets. With no friends or family and certainly no veterans benefits, his sister fears that his type-2 diabetes isn’t being taken care of.

“I got no choice,” he told a local TV station Fox40 back home. “I have to stay here but I’m doing the best I can.”

His story is sad enough and you would think that there aren’t many like him, but you’d be wrong. Once back in Mexico he met Hector Barajas, a former paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne who told De Leon there were dozens like them. In 2013, Barajas started a safe house for veterans from the United States that are deported to Mexico.

“We believe none of these men should be left behind,” he said. “We talk about supporting the troops, let’s keep supporting these men. Treat these men with honor.”

One in six veterans who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from a substance abuse issue. Those veterans who seek treatment for PTSD report alcohol-use disorders to the tune of 60 to 80 percent, according to the National Center for PTSD.

De Leon, Barajas and their friends are victims of cracks in a complicated system. Justice For Vets is an organization that works to help veterans that end up in the courts because of drug and alcohol abuse. They work with veteran treatment courts that require mandatory treatment and court appearances to help incentivize veterans to get clean and sober. But immigrants aren’t eligible if they break the law. They’re simply deported
OK, all you warmongering, military-felating "patriots:" where do you stand on honorable veterans being thrown out of the country like common criminals?  Why do you hate America's veterans?


Gun Privileges

And why not?  Guns kill actual breathing human beings.  Abortions do not.

Via bradblog:

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Real Progressive Who Forced Change on the Democratic Party

Did you see the camera catch him in McArthur Park in Chicago that epic night in 2008?  The tears running down his face.  Tears, I thought, of joy but also regret and also pride.

Because 20 years earlier he had forced on the Democratic party the populist changes - proportional delegates - that made it possible for a black man to become president.

Not himself, though he fought hard and came damn close, but another who owes too much to ever repay.

I voted for Jesse Jackson in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1984 and 1988.  I was fortunate to live in an early primary state where he was still on the ballot. I cherish those votes almost as much as the ones I cast for Barack Hussein Obama.

Jackson got cheers from white people in places that shouldn't have been a surprise: coal country and farm country and cancer-causing factory strips where people felt abandoned by politicians, until Jackson stood up and spoke directly to their fears and their hopes.

It’s good to see someone mention that the Democratic party has deep progressive roots. He mentions a lot of names that stirred up sad memories. Jesse Jackson, presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988; I supported him, although his campaign fizzled out in the primaries before I got to have a say out in Oregon (I really detest our system that gives Iowa and New Hampshire an undeserved excess of privilege in electoral politics). Howard Dean in 2004; he was my preferred candidate then, too. I have a long history of support for failed candidacies, I’m afraid.

I keep making these choices, and will keep on doing it, though. He quotes Jackson’s speech before the Democratic Convention, and yeah, it reminds me why.
We find common ground at the plant gate that closes on workers without notice. We find common ground at the farm auction, where a good farmer loses his or her land to bad loans or diminishing markets. Common ground at the school yard where teachers cannot get adequate pay, and students cannot get a scholarship, and can’t make a loan. Common ground at the hospital admitting room, where somebody tonight is dying because they cannot afford to go upstairs to a bed that’s empty waiting for someone with insurance to get sick. We are a better nation than that. We must do better. Common ground. What is leadership if not present help in a time of crisis? So I met you at the point of challenge. In Jay, Maine, where paper workers were striking for fair wages; in Greenville, Iowa, where family farmers struggle for a fair price; in Cleveland, Ohio, where working women seek comparable worth; in McFarland, California, where the children of Hispanic farm workers may be dying from poisoned land, dying in clusters with cancer; in an AIDS hospice in Houston, Texas, where the sick support one another, too often rejected by their own parents and friends.
Nothing has changed. It’s gotten worse for people like that, if anything.

It’s worth listening to the whole thing.



(It’s in multiple parts, sorry, but really, worth finding it all.)

I have to include a little more than Pierce did. Note that there’s a fair bit of God and Bible in it; if this militant atheist can forgive it for the greater message, than you can do it too.
Common ground. America is not a blanket woven from one thread, one color, one cloth. When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South Carolina and grandmamma could not afford a blanket, she didn’t complain and we did not freeze. Instead she took pieces of old cloth — patches, wool, silk, gabardine, crockersack — only patches, barely good enough to wipe off your shoes with. But they didn’t stay that way very long. With sturdy hands and a strong cord, she sewed them together into a quilt, a thing of beauty and power and culture. Now, Democrats, we must build such a quilt.

Farmers, you seek fair prices and you are right — but you cannot stand alone. Your patch is not big enough.

Workers, you fight for fair wages, you are right — but your patch labor is not big enough.
Women, you seek comparable worth and pay equity, you are right — but your patch is not big enough.

Women, mothers, who seek Head Start, and day care and prenatal care on the front side of life, relevant jail care and welfare on the back side of life, you are right — but your patch is not big enough.

Students, you seek scholarships, you are right — but your patch is not big enough.

Blacks and Hispanics, when we fight for civil rights, we are right — but our patch is not big enough.
Gays and lesbians, when you fight against discrimination and a cure for AIDS, you are right — but your patch is not big enough.

Conservatives and progressives, when you fight for what you believe, right wing, left wing, hawk, dove, you are right from your point of view, but your point of view is not enough.

But don’t despair. Be as wise as my grandmamma. Pull the patches and the pieces together, bound by a common thread. When we form a great quilt of unity and common ground, we’ll have the power to bring about health care and housing and jobs and education and hope to our Nation.
We, the people, can win.

We stand at the end of a long dark night of reaction. We stand tonight united in the commitment to a new direction. For almost eight years we’ve been led by those who view social good coming from private interest, who view public life as a means to increase private wealth. They have been prepared to sacrifice the common good of the many to satisfy the private interests and the wealth of a few.

We believe in a government that’s a tool of our democracy in service to the public, not an instrument of the aristocracy in search of private wealth. We believe in government with the consent of the governed, “of, for and by the people.” We must now emerge into a new day with a new direction.
Is it too late to vote for Jackson? Remember, he lost to Reagan in 1984 and George HW Bush in 1988. Imagine what a different country we’d be living in if those two establishment conservatives had been defeated.
 Imagine the country we can still live in if we support the progressive movement that is rolling across the country right now.

The Dangerous Idiocy of Repug Control

One seat. Kentucky Democrats lose one seat in the House in special elections this March or the all-House elections this November and the beautiful Bluegrass State will turn into the dystopian hellhole in which Kansans now suffer.


I am really, really hoping that the lesson Democrats get from the Obama years is "Not voting in midterm elections and letting Republicans get complete control of a majority of state governments is a bad idea." You keep getting states like Kansas.
Kansas Republicans are pushing for a bill that would allow teachers to face criminal prosecution if they teach students material they consider harmful, the Wichita Eagle reports.

The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R), stems from a controversy over a poster in the Shawnee Mission public school district in which a poster reading, “How do people express their sexual feelings?” The poster listed “oral sex” and other acts, the Eagle reports.

The bill was brought up for consideration at a committee meeting Tuesday.

Pitcher-Cook said “state laws should protect parents’ rights to safeguard our children against harmful materials, especially in schools.”

As of now, teachers are protected from misdemeanor charges associated with giving children sexual content, if the content is part of a lesson. If the bill passes, teachers could be charged and spend up to six months in jail, along with a fine.

Tom Witt spoke out against the bill on behalf of his husband, who is a teacher, and said it would be used to intimidate teachers and create fear. He submitted a list of books from the American Library Association which are the most banned, including Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

“Here’s what my husband wants to know: Which of the books on the list are going to send him to jail?” he demanded. “That’s all we need to know.”
At this point Republicans in 2016 want to criminalize being Muslim, being LGBTQ, being Latino, being black, being a voting Democrat, and now being a sex-ed teacher. These people are crazy, dangerous lunatics.

But you know what they do that liberals, progressives, and Democrats refuse to do?

Vote.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Last Socialist President

KY Judge Overturns Right-to-Work-Like-A-Serf

Face it, people: the only thing standing between you and serfdom is a union. Only a union protects your actual right to work for a living wage in a safe workplace under decent conditions.
 
Local governments in Kentucky can increase the minimum wage, but a federal judge ruled Wednesday that they can't ban labor unions from requiring employees to join them.
Meanwhile, union members volunteering their time are literally saving lives, which is more than anybody in Matt Bevin's adninistration can say.
Due to the inaction of state and federal officials, thousands of people in Flint have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead in their water. Now a group of union plumber are taking matters into their own hands.
On Saturday, 300 plumbers from unions across the country descended on Flint to install new faucets and water filters for free.
Many Flint residents needed new faucets because their existing faucets were so old they could not accommodate water filters provided by the state.
The effort was coordinated by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, known as the United Association. The fixtures were donated by the Plumbing Manufacturers International.
If you still don't get it, Charlie Pierce explains:
These are Union folks. You remember, right? These are those people who do nothing but expect to be paid for goofing off, with their silly "benefits" and their ridiculous "pensions." The ones who wear pinky rings and cashmere coats and are just as influential in our politics as the plutocrats are. Even some millennial liberals will tell you that unions are obsolete in our shiny new globalized entrepreneurial economy. Why be a plumber when you can invent the next Uber? This is why. Unions used to be essential part of the community. They threw parades and Christmas parties and sponsored Little League teams. In many places, they were what a town had for a community center. And that's the spirit in which these people did what they did. It used to be important.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

KY Repug Senate Votes to Kill Poor Women and Their Children

Because that's what cutting Planned Parenthood funding does.

From the LRC:

The state Senate has passed legislation intended to curb the flow of non-Medicaid, state-administered tax dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics in Kentucky.

Dubbed the “Defunding Planned Parenthood Legislation,” Senate Bill 7 passed by a 33-5 vote on Tuesday. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. 
 It's the "Killing Poor Women and Their Children Legislation," and here's why:

Score_img
What terrorists like Dear and Republicans in Congress want is basically the same: to shut down Planned Parenthood and deny women access to abortions. If they got their wish, it would serve only to make poor women poorer and increase the number of unintended pregnancies.

Indeed, unintended pregnancies are already concentrated among low-income women, an imbalance that has been increasing. The rate of such pregnancies among women with incomes below the poverty line jumped 56 percent from 1994 to 2008, while for higher-income women it actually fell by 24 percent. In 2008, the unintended-pregnancy rate for poor women was more than five times that of the most well-off. All of this means that poor women have higher rates of unplanned births as well as abortions—six times and five times higher, respectively—than women at the other end of the income scale. Poor women also have fewer places to turn for affordable contraception and reproductive care—except for organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Taking away the option to seek an abortion would not just infringe on the constitutional rights of poor women; it would almost certainly make them poorer. If Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that made abortion legal throughout the country, were overturned and states were allowed to implement their own bans, poorer nonwhite women would see their abortion rates decline more significantly, according to researchers. In part, this would be due to the simple problem of having to travel long distances just to reach a clinic.

Current research already tells us what happens to women who want an abortion but can’t get one. Women who seek to terminate a pregnancy but are turned away are three times more likely to fall below the poverty line over the following two years than women who successfully get an abortion. They are also more likely to end up unemployed and to rely on government benefits to get by. Women themselves already know this: Among the main reasons they cite for seeking the procedure is that they can’t afford to have a baby, and that doing so would interfere with their ability to work or gain an education.

Shutting down Planned Parenthood wouldn’t just affect access to abortion, of course. The group provides many other services to low-income women. Poor women are more likely to have sex without birth control—and access to affordable contraception would shrink further without the existence of Planned Parenthood. Among 491 counties with Planned Parenthood clinics, 103 have no other place where low-income patients can obtain affordable contraception.

Access to reproductive healthcare is certainly about women’s right to bodily autonomy. But doing away with that right also comes with devastating economic consequences, especially for those already at the bottom. Eliminating Planned Parenthood would create a vicious cycle of impoverishment and unwanted pregnancies for the most vulnerable women among us.
Just one year ago, Kentuckians could count on our Democratic-majority house of representatives to shit-can bills like this before our Democratic governor even got a chance to veto them.  No more.

The Kentucky House now has a bare one-vote majority and has already surrendered to the conservatard freakazoid repugs by passing anti-abortion legislation that for decades it has refused to even let out of committee.

From the LRC:
The first bill the 2016 General Assembly delivered to the governor would require a an in-person or real-time video conference between a woman seeking an abortion and a health care provider at least 24 hours before the procedure.

The state Senate gave final passage of “informed consent” legislation, also known as Senate Bill 4, as amended by the House of Representatives by a 33-5 vote today. On Thursday, the House amended SB 4 to include the video conference option, known as “telehealth.” Backers of the House amendment said the telehealth provision would eliminate the burden of women having to make an extra trip to a clinic that provides abortions.
We. Are. So. Fucked.
  

Now We're Stuck With AynRandy

The Tribble-Toupeed One is "suspending" his presidential campaign and now will have nine months to work on getting re-elected to fail to represent Kentucky in the U.S. Senator.

Really, Iowa?  You couldn't give him just enough false hope and momentum to carry him past the point that his senate campaign collapsed?  I am disappointed, Iowa.

Here's the self-aggrandizing lie his campaign released:

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is suspending his 2016 White House bid.

In a release on Wednesday morning, the Kentucky Senator said the following:

"It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.

Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.

Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over. I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."
Nine people have filed to challenge AynRandy for Senate:  two repugs and seven Democrats, including Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.