FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The House minority floor leader called
Monday for lawmakers to reconvene on April 6 to override some
provisions that Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed in a Medicaid budget bill
passed last week.
Rep. Jeff Hoover said in a statement that he and other
Republican lawmakers are concerned about numerous items the
Democratic governor struck from a compromise bill intended to shore
up funding in the Medicaid program. Hoover was particularly upset
that Beshear had vetoed provisions that would stop furloughs of
state employees, reduce personal service contracts and limit debt
"The governor has clearly snubbed his nose at the bipartisan
effort and overwhelming consensus of the House in passing the
compromise," Hoover said. "The governor's actions are disturbing
and we, as a House, need to hold him accountable."
Lawmakers were thrown into a legislative limbo of sorts last
week when the House adjourned from a special session and the Senate recessed. To officially end a special session in Kentucky, both the House and Senate have to adjourn.
So House lawmakers could reconvene if leadership wanted to. But
they're not so inclined.
"We have no plans to return until the 2012 regular session
convenes," Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a
Stumbo called instead for the Senate to adjourn so legislative
pay could stop.
"By failing in this simple duty, the Senate is costing
taxpayers $65,000 a day," Stumbo said.
Legislative Research Commission Director Bobby Sherman had
ordered a hold on legislative pay pending final resolution of a
provision in the Medicaid bill that required lawmakers not to be
paid during the legislative recess. Beshear vetoed that provision,
saying it runs afoul of language in the state Constitution that
limits lawmakers' ability to quickly change their own compensation.
"I'm going to wait until the end of the session and apply the
law," Sherman said.
Beshear also used his veto power Friday to strike portions of
the Medicaid bill that called for spending cuts to most government
services, including education and public protection.
After weeks of fruitless talks, the Democratic-controlled House
accepted the Republican-controlled Senate's Medicaid plan, but only
after getting an assurance from Beshear that he would use his veto
power to take out objectionable provisions.
The Medicaid issue had become politically charged in a
gubernatorial election year. Beshear is seeking re-election, though
he's unopposed in the May 17 Democratic primary. Republican Senate President David Williams is one of three candidates seeking the GOP nomination to run against Beshear.
Beshear had asked lawmakers for what appeared to be a simple
Medicaid fix: Transferring $166.5 million from next year's budget
to shore up the program this year. Then, next year's $425 million
budget gap would be plugged using privatization.
The Senate proposal would have required cuts to most government
agencies of 0.35 percent in the current fiscal year and 1.74
percent next fiscal year.
The House called those cuts unacceptable and worked out the deal
with Beshear on vetoes.
What was left after Beshear had finished marking it up was
similar to his original proposal.
Hoover said Beshear went too far with the vetoes.
"Our caucus stood strongly against cuts to education at the
present time," he said. "However, the governor's vetoes will have
a serious impact on trying to balance Kentucky's budget."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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