The legislative session has adjourned without a budget and with leaders from both chambers blaming each other for the failure to reach an agreement. For the past few weeks House Democrats and Senate Republicans have been deadlocked on the roughly $17 billion state spending plan, which is the one piece of legislation that state lawmakers are required to deal with.
The failure of budget negotiators to approve a spending plan for state government now means Gov. Steve Beshear will have to call a special session before July 1. In previous years when the legislature failed to pass budgets, the governor was allowed to keep the lights on by creating their own informal spending plans.
In 2005, however, the Kentucky Supreme Court changed the law and ruled that governors cannot spend money without a budget unless required by the constitution or state law. That includes public schools, state prisons, and a militia, among other items for “safekeeping.”
The governor has released the following statement scolding the legislature for its failure to pass a comprehensive budget bill.
From Gov. Beshear:
“The people of this Commonwealth and I are disgusted by the total inability of the General Assembly to reach a budget agreement.
Instead, lawmakers decided to put their egos and personal priorities above the needs of Kentucky families – families that are struggling to pay their bills and hold on to their jobs in the worst recession of our lifetime.
Although they passed a legislative budget to fund their own salaries, they refused to fulfill their greatest duty – passing the people’s budget that funds our classrooms, teachers, health care programs, job creation efforts and keeping prisoners safely locked away.
Their failure not only puts these programs at risk, but means taxpayers will have to pay legislators overtime in a special session to do a job they should have already done.
The leadership of both chambers, after rejecting my budget proposal, said that writing their own budget would be their ‘defining moment.’
And it was. A moment of abject failure.
Because of the complexities of finance and bond issues, as well as the need to plan for significant reductions in the next fiscal year resulting from the national economy, we must have an executive budget in place by June 1.
Therefore, I call upon the General Assembly to begin immediately working on a budget compromise, and continue until they come to a successful and responsible resolution, because I will call a special session in May.”
Earlier today, LEO Weekly’s Jonathan Meador pointed out that it was peculiar for Beshear to scold state lawmakers considering his own budgetary gimmicks at the beginning of the session.