Road Plan Speeds Through House, But Republicans Say Slow Down
by John Gregory | 03/24/14 10:43 AM
State spending highlighted a significant portion of Friday's Comment on Kentucky discussion, this week hosted by Joe Arnold of WHAS-TV in Louisville.
Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV in Louisville reported on how displeased Republican state legislators were by the road plan passed by the House last week. GOP lawmakers claim they lost road projects in their districts as punishment for voting against the Democratic budget plan, which includes a 1.5 cent increase in the gasoline tax. Despite that criticism, Smith said significant road-building projects are still slated for Republican-held districts. The plan now heads to the Senate, where the Republican leadership will likely amend it.
Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to take up the full state budget this week. Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader said Senate President Robert Stivers wants to make sure a budget is passed during this session, since this is the first one under his leadership of the chamber. Brammer said the Senate version of the spending plan will incur less debt than the House version, and Senate Republicans may try to reduce funding for Kynect, the state's health care exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act. A vote on the Senate version of the budget could come as early as today.
On the revenue side, Ronnie Ellis of CNHI Inc. said House Speaker Greg Stumbo has finally given his blessing to the local option sales tax proposed in House Bill 399. Since the measure calls for a constitutional amendment, the bill must win approval by a super majority of three-fifths of House and Senate members. Ellis says Democrats will need to garner some 18 Republican votes for the bill to pass the House.
Meanwhile, prospects for expanded gaming look dim. Ellis said many Democrats don't want a constitutional amendment to allow expanded gambling to appear on the November ballot because they fear it could adversely affect voter turnout for their candidates.
Watch the full Comment on Kentucky program to see more about these issues, as well as the competing House and Senate plans for dealing with school snow days, a measure to allow cannabis oil for certain medicinal uses, and a bill to prevent the companies behind the Bluegrass Pipeline project from using eminent domain to acquire land along the proposed route.