Here’s What’s Left For Kentucky Lawmakers In Final Legislative Days
Kentucky lawmakers will consider whether to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the state budget and revenue bills and whether to pass any other last-minute bills during the final two days of this year’s legislative session on Friday and Saturday.
Plus, teachers are expected to descend on the state capitol for another rally Friday after Bevin signed controversial changes to public employee pension benefits into law earlier this week.
On WHAS Radio Tuesday evening, Bevin floated the idea of continuing the budget and tax reform talks in a special legislative session that would take place in the coming months.
“Whether we get it done in the next couple days, whether we get it done within the next couple months, it’ll get done before the fiscal year ends and that’s what’s important,” Bevin said.
The legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget by the time the next fiscal year starts on July 1.
This is the first time that Republicans have had control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office and been in charge of writing the state budget. But they’ve still found plenty to disagree on.
Bevin vetoed the two-year state budget on Monday, saying it “ignores fiscal reality” by spending $600 million more than his proposed budget and funding programs using dollars from the rainy day fund or a surplus.
He also vetoed the two-year revenue bill, which helped fund some of those spending increases with a series of tax hikes on previously untaxed services like automotive repairs, pet grooming and country club dues.
That tax bill would also increase the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack to $1.10.
In his veto message of the revenue bill, Bevin said it would “disproportionately harm small business, while failing to provide relief from other antiquated taxes that harm small business.”
Bevin’s budget director calculated that the revenue bill would bring in at least $50 million less than the legislature budgeted for.
Leaders of the House and Senate haven’t indicated whether they will try to override Bevin’s vetoes, only saying that Bevin’s interpretation of the bills were “misguided.”
“To our knowledge, the Governor has had no discussions with any legislators on the details of this budget and what he might consider to be a shortfall,” acting-House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers said in a statement on Monday.
“We believe Governor Bevin would be best served to meet with legislators to understand their thoughts and rationale before making a final decision on vetoing the revenue and/or budget bills.”
It takes a constitutional majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate to override the governor’s veto — 51 of the 100 seats in the House and 20 of the 38 seats in the Senate.
Last week, the budget bill easily passed the Senate with a vote of 25-13 and the House with a vote of 59-36.
But the votes on the revenue bill were close: 20-18 in the Senate and 51-44 in the House.
Other Measures In Limbo
Meanwhile, lawmakers will have another chance to consider a variety of other bills that haven’t passed out of the legislature.