TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

State News

September 22, 2010

Kentucky Republicans discuss budget, tax legislation

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis/CNHI News Service

State House Republicans have a long way to go if they want to become the majority party in the House of Representatives where Democrats presently hold a 65-35 margin.

But Republicans have some ideas they want to push if they pick up the 16 seats they need to take over — and those same ideas just might help them pick up a few of those seats.

Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, surrounded by about 20 members of his caucus and another 20 Republican candidates who want to join them, gathered in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday to announce they’ll file legislation that would prohibit lawmakers from being paid for a special session to pass a state budget if they failed to pass it in the regular session.

Another measure would require any bill that raises taxes or spends tax dollars to be available for inspection by lawmakers and the public a full 48 hours before members vote on the bill. Hoover said Republicans will “in the coming weeks” offer other legislation to force state agencies to open their books to the public online, to streamline Medicaid, to close “loopholes” in the state pension system.

“If we are the majority,” Hoover said, “we will carry out our duty to pass a budget. We as House Republicans are ready to lead our state in a new direction.” He criticized the budget passed this year by House Democrats — and rejected by the Republican Senate — which would have borrowed about $1 billion for construction of schools and infrastructure projects.

Hoover said “the liberal Democrats in the Kentucky House” voted to borrow $1.2 billion and to increase state debt and increase taxes on small businesses, noting that only one Republican voted for the measures.

“People no longer have faith in their leaders and by and large have a deep mistrust in government,” Hoover said. “It’s because government is out of control, in Washington and here in Frankfort.” He said if the voters make Republicans the majority party, they are prepared to make government more accountable and “make some bold decisions and take bold action that’s been lacking for so long.”

Hoover wouldn’t say how one chamber could guarantee passage of a budget if the other declined to go along with its version, saying he couldn’t control or speak for the Senate but a Republican-run House will pass a budget. But the Democratic controlled House passed a budget this year – it just wasn’t one the Senate was willing to pass.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Prestonsburg, sees things differently of course. It was Stumbo who pushed the spending plan that would have borrowed money to build schools and water and sewer projects, a plan he termed a “jobs plan” for Kentucky families.

“Kentucky has lost 100,000 in the Republican recession, so I’m proud the House Democrats took steps this year to help as many as 25,000 families get back on their feet,” Stumbo said in a prepared statement.

Hoover said the measure to strip lawmakers of their pay in special sessions to pass a state budget will likely require a constitutional amendment, but he thinks it’s one that will pass. Lawmakers got an earful this past spring when they left town without an enacted budget when the Democratic House and Republican Senate couldn’t reconcile differences between the budgets each passed. A common complaint was that lawmakers failed in their duty to pass a budget in regular session and shouldn’t be paid for the ensuing special session.

The other measure he planned to pre-file would require a 48-hour period for review of any legislation that would spend or raise tax money. Lawmakers often complain they are asked to vote on a state budget in the final hours of a session without knowing some of the items it contains. That complaint isn’t restricted to Republicans, either.

The other measures Hoover said Republicans will propose would require all state contracts to be subject to open bidding; require state agencies to post online all expenditures and transactions; streamline Medicaid by extending managed care programs to more areas of the state; and end “double-dipping” where state workers retire, collect their pension but return to work and earn a second salary. Hoover said the bill would also stop lawmakers from calculating their legislative pension using three years of higher salaries at other state jobs.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. He can be reached at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Healthcare signup in state extended

    While the national health exchange established by the Affordable Care Act — known to some as Obamacare — suffered glitches, crashes and delays, the Kentucky-run exchange, Kynect, was often used as a national model.

    April 4, 2014

  • Kentucky budget passed with little debate

    The Kentucky General Assembly, divided between chambers along party lines, overwhelmingly passed a $20-billion, new two-year budget not only on time but with almost no debate.

    April 1, 2014

  • Lawmakers agree on snow bill

    Kentucky school officials, parents and students finally have what they’ve been asking for: A bill to allow them to get out of school before the summer fully sets in, even if they don’t make up some of the days they missed during the severe winter.

    March 31, 2014

  • Tensions rise during budget negotiations

    Tensions increased Friday between the Republican Senate and Democratic House over continuing negotiations on a new, two-year budget. It even got personal at times.

    March 31, 2014

  • Kentucky Power plan a potential landscape-changer

    Electrical ratepayers, local governments and those employed in the coal industry might have a hard time understanding the complicated transaction through which Kentucky Power Company is purchasing half the generating capacity of a coal-fired West Virginia plant.

    March 28, 2014 2 Stories

  • Senate passes budget with no locked-in gas tax hikes

    The state Senate on Tuesday passed its version of a two-year revenue measure, and unlike the House version, it does not lock in gas tax increases.

    March 26, 2014

  • House passes bill aimed at saving Big Sandy Plant

    Backers of a bill to require the Kentucky Public Service Commission to “reconsider” its previous order approving Kentucky Power’s purchase of a West Virginia generator say all they are asking “is for them to take a second look and look at all the facts.”

    March 26, 2014 1 Story

  • Judge: Companies can’t use eminent domain for pipeline project

    Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd on Tuesday ruled that companies building a natural gas liquids pipeline across parts of Kentucky cannot invoke eminent domain to force private property owners to provide easements.

    March 26, 2014

  • Still no snow day solution from lawmakers

    Senate and House negotiators, working on a bill to give school districts flexibility in making up snow days, each accused the other of moving the goal posts – but it’s the local school districts who may be penalized.

    March 25, 2014

  • Senate sets budget with ‘wiggle room’

    It was no surprise the Republican-controlled Kentucky state Senate altered the $20 billion, two-year state budget approved by the Democratic-controlled House, but there may have been a few who were surprised by how little it was changed.

    March 25, 2014