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Kentucky Returns To Divided Government In 2020 Legislative Session

Alexey Stiop, 123rf Stock Photo

State lawmakers return to Frankfort on Jan. 7 for the next legislative session when lawmakers have to write a new state budget. 

Incoming Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has said he wants to find points of compromise with the Republican-led legislature, but the session will likely reveal deep divisions in how to fund state government and whether or not to raise more revenue. 

Republican House Speaker David Osborne said that budget writers will have to work within the confines of how much money the state can bring in.

“We always have revenue worries as we put together a budget. It just means we will utilize the numbers we have available to us and make the best decisions we can as we move forward in constructing a budget,” Osborne said.

State economists predict that Kentucky’s revenue will grow only slightly over the next two years.

Meanwhile state expenses are expected to increase, especially in the realm of funding for pensions, corrections, Medicaid and a massive school safety bill.  

Beshear has advocated for legalizing casino gambling and taxing the proceeds to bring in more money for the state. Republican leaders have said legalizing casinos is a non-starter. But Senate President Robert Stivers said there might be room for compromise on legalizing sports betting.

“Casino gambling, I think it’s fast, it’s got all the bells and whistles, I think it has the potential of being very addictive. I don’t think sports wagering does. I don't think it also generates the money that is predicted so I'm really ambivalent,” Stivers said.

The legislative session will be one of the few times in state history that the legislature and governor’s office will be controlled by different political parties. The last time was 1948.


Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.