The General Assembly's special session begins Monday, and Governor Steve Beshear says he's confident lawmakers will make an agreement on the budget. They failed to compromise during the regular 60-day session, but now Besehar hopes they can solve their differences in just five days.
Governor Beshear says he's cautiously optimistic, but he points out that if the Senate and the House can't agree to a budget, some critical parts of the government will likely shut down, and that could have serious consequences.
Over the course of four months it began to seem impossible for legislators to reach a budget agreement, but Governor Steve Beshear says after all that time, both the House and Senate are close. "They had agreed on about 95% of the issues, but somehow they just couldn't bring themselves to that agreement, and so I crafted a compromise proposal on that 5%,' Beshear said.
Beshear says leaders from both chambers have assured him they can live with that compromise, but he says if they refuse, his hands will be tied when it comes to key government expenses. "We might be able to keep K through 12 running schools, but there's some question about that," Beshear said, "Corrections, we probably can keep folks in prison, but you're talking about a whole lot of things that would have to be shut down."
The governor says there's no guarantee that even state police could continue to function. "I would have to activate the National Guard probably as a militia. I can do that under the constitution to provide law enforcement protection in a lot of the state if they didn't pass the budget," Beshear said.
That's why Beshear says political leaders across the board will have to meet each other halfway in the special session even though his solution may not be ideal. "I think it's a good compromise. Is it a good budget? No. I mean you can't have a good budget in these kind of times, but an austere budget is a lot better than no budget at all,"Beshear said.