The Kentucky Club for Growth has released its legislative report card for the last two sessions of the General Assembly. The state chapter is part of the larger conservative political action committee, which advocates for lower taxes, cuts in spending and limited government. Its national scorecards often target Democratic legislators, but it also criticizes Republican lawmakers for being "Republican In Name Only" (RINO) who vote against the club's taxation agenda.
The report card rates only four lawmakers with its top distinction of "Defenders of Economic Freedom" with a score over 85 percent. It gives Republican state Representatives Jim DeCesare of Warren County its top rating overall.
Andy Hightower is the executive director of the Kentucky Club for Growth. He says most Kentucky lawmakers continue to talk about controlling spending, but their rhetoric does not match their votes.
“The people who make decisions are again trying to spend as much as they can despite whatever restraints the revenue levels put on them. I will say this year, the budget reflected these constraints more than in the recent past. The level of spending only increased about 2.7 percent,” he says.
Other highly ranked lawmakers are Republican state Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington, as well as GOP state Senators Damon Thayer of Georgetown and Julie Denton of Louisville. The Republican-controlled state Senate has no members ranked in the Club for Growth's highest grade level.
The group grades state Representative Mary Lou Marzian as the worst lawmaker for taxpayers with zero percent. Among the bottom nine who received the "Uncompromising Liberal" distinction, five were from the Jefferson County delegation including Democratic state representatives Thomas Burch, Darryl Owens, Joni Jenkins and Reginald Meeks.
"Marzian is consistently on the bottom," says Hightower. "She's not like (state Rep.) Jim Wayne, who is an advocate of bigger government and higher taxes, but at the same time when he's given constraints he sets priorities. Wayne is one of the higher ranked Democrats despite his beliefs, however, Marzian votes for anything that comes her way."
Marzian could not be reached for comment.
The scorecard also lists state Sen. President David Williams, R-Burkesville, as inadequate by the group's standards and says that he doesn't stand with taxpayers enough. Williams advocated for tax reform during his failed bid for governor last year.
Hightower says voters should explore the scorecard and take the grades into account during the fall elections.