FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Four special elections in Kentucky could control the fate of the state House of Representatives and the $650 million state spending cuts proposed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
Voters in four Kentucky House districts will elect representatives in special elections on Tuesday. The winners will immediately take office and have to decide whether to support Bevin's proposed budget. It takes 51 votes to pass a budget out of the House. Democrats have 50 votes and Republicans have 46. If Republicans win all four elections, they will share power with Democrats.
"This is probably the biggest race the House has seen in 100 years.” Voter Mike Goins continued saying, “These races might be just as important if not more important than the presidential caucuses that we had over the weekend."
The Democratic candidates say they oppose Bevin's cuts because of the impacts they would have on public education and the court system. But the Republican candidates support the governor because they say the state must begin paying down the state's multi-billion dollar public pension debt.
"We're concerned about passing a budget that's going to be solvent and financially responsible, having a Republican candidate win could put that in that favor," said Scott County voter Julie Allen.
She hopes Republicans will sweep the election so Bevin will get the votes he needs to pass the proposed budget cuts.
Voter Paula Tackett says she isn’t voting along party lines, she’s voting on the issues.
"The candidate I'm voting for has a strong belief in our local school system and is going to allocate more money for that. That's really important for me with little ones," she explained.
Polls close at 6 p.m.
House District 62 in Fayette, Owen and Scott counties pits Republican Phillip Pratt against Democrat Chuck Tackett. They are vying for the seat vacated by the resignation of Rep. Ryan Quarles after he was elected agriculture commissioner.
The seat in House District 54 in Boyle and Casey counties was vacated by the resignation of Rep. Mike Harmon. Republican Daniel Elliott is battling Democrat Bill Noelker for the seat.
House District 8 in Christian and Trigg counties was vacated by the resignation of Rep. John Tilley.
House District 98 in Boyd and Greenup counties was vacated by the resignation of Rep. Tanya Pullin.