The Kentucky Senate works this week to put its mark on a two year budget. Members have been reviewing spending and program needs the last few weeks, but now it's decision time. Budget Committee Chair Bob Leeper says it's likely to make for some late nights.
"We haven't made any concrete decisions at this point. Want to watch and see how the House affected the budget, see what their priorities were," said Leeper. "Our job now is to spend late nights working on it and try to put what we think is a responsible budget forward when we get through with it."
The Kentucky House passed its version of the 20 million dollar budget last week. Senate leaders have complained the House plan contains too much borrowing.
"A pretty notable contrast that we want to do what we believe is fiscally responsible, that we want to have reasonable debt, we want to limit out structural imbalance," said Senate President Rob Stivers.
Stivers says the House sent the budget down to the Senate a couple of days earlier than previous years. He and House leaders anticipate getting together in a couple of weeks to attempt to iron out differences between the budgets passed in each chamber.
The Kentucky general assembly is about a third of the way through the 2014 session. As is the case in most Kentucky legislative sessions, a great deal of the voting comes in the later weeks and days. For instance, no votes occurred in either house Friday and both the House and Senate were in session for less than an hour. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says his chamber tends to move at a slower pace.
“If you go back and look at the formation of our country, I believe it was Ben Franklin who said that the House is like legislation that comes out as hot as coffee and the Senate is the saucer on which it cools. So, we are contemplative and more deliberative in our approach than the House of Representatives,” said Thayer.
The pace of the legislative session is pretty typical for the first third of the session. Franklin County Senator Julian Carrol says the majority party sets the agenda when it comes to bill consideration.
“In terms of their leadership, they want to make certain they don’t want to put them into a spot of having to vote on a bill that be of some harm to then in their effort for re-election, but we’ve moved too slow. We’ve got an enormous amount of work to do and certainly the pace should have been much better,” said Carrol.
The State Senate Republican Caucus has officially nominated Senator Robert Stivers for Senate president. Stivers’ new role won’t be official until it’s voted on by the full chamber in early January. But the GOP holds a 24-14 advantage, meaning Stivers is all but certain to succeed former Senate President David Williams.
After more than a decade under the same leader, Senate Republicans are poised to choose their chamber's next president Tuesday in Frankfort. But regardless of the outcome, insiders are predicting the GOP majority will maintain an aversion to gambling, the very issue that many believe triggered a change in leadership.
Election day is two weeks away, and with only one competitive Congressional race (6th District with Congressman Ben Chandler and Andy Barr) and no statewide races on the ballot, this year's politics will definitely be local. Republicans are trying to take control of the state House this year. They need 10 seats to do so. Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to pick up a few Senate seats to bolster their slim minority. Below are the races to watch, by region, in these legislative contests.
The Judicial Nominating Commission that could recommend Republican Senate President David Williams for a circuit judgeship in southern Kentucky is set to meet next week in Burkesville. The meeting, which will be held at 10 a.m. EDT on Oct. 25, was announced Wednesday.
A spokesman for Kentucky Senate President David Williams says Williams would consider a judicial appointment if Governor Steve Beshear offered the position. Williams and Beshear are bitter rivals. And rumors have been swirling in Frankfort that Beshear is planning to offer Williams an open circuit court seat in his southern Kentucky district. Williams is a trial lawyer by trade.
Kentucky Senate Republicans have established a succession plan in the case their current leader, David Williams, is appointed into an open judgeship in his district. Williams is considered a leading candidate for the open circuit court judgeship that covers his home county.
Two of Kentucky's highest profile Democrats say they are not interested in taking on U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in 2014. Attorney General Jack Conway, who ran for Senate in 2010 against Republican Rand Paul, tells Kentucky Public Radio he isn't interested in running for the chamber again.
The Kentucky Senate has approved a two year, $19 billion state budget that includes sharp cuts to most goverment programs and agencies. The plan was approved this afternoon, by a vote of 36 to 1 and will now go the the House of Representatives for consideration.