Well, at least the tone has improved.
Predictably, the 2013 General Assembly reached the final scheduled day for passing bills and suddenly lawmakers snapped into action, passing a flurry of bills in rapid succession.
Few of them addressed major issues facing the legislature — pension reform, inadequate revenue – or even politically manufactured issues like taxing districts, hemp and military voting which garnered so much attention as the session began.
Thursday night we re-lived the annual ritual in which lobbyists and rank-and-file lawmakers ask reporters what will happen — as if Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo or Gov. Steve Beshear confide in us.
All reporters could tell them was that it was inevitable the two chambers would recess for the University of Kentucky basketball game. Some things never change. (Unfortunately this year, neither do the Wildcats, who lost again.)
Stivers, Stumbo and their leadership teams were summoned to Beshear’s office while a reporter camped outside on the marble bench. Another reporter wondered aloud why they hadn’t done this earlier in the session when there might have been time to work out their differences before they found themselves deadlocked and up against the clock.
Stumbo said it was an “unfair question,” commending Beshear and Senate leaders for their “sincere desire” to avoid a special session. Stivers — who to his considerable credit is more responsible than anyone for the improved tone — returned the favor, avoiding any criticism of the governor and House leaders.
The leaders were to confer again Friday about how to proceed on pensions, the issue on which the two chambers can’t agree. Stivers and Stumbo expressed confidence they could yet somehow reach a compromise on an issue on which they seem miles apart. People talked about allowing “the process to work.”
But as that process unfolded, a minority lawmaker walked by a reporter, smiling ruefully, shaking his head and mumbled: “This is a helluva way to run a train, isn’t it?” Another complained with obvious disgust: “We’re no different than Washington.”
As reporters’ deadlines neared, they struggled between their experience-tested belief that nothing important was likely to happen and their fear something inevitably would happen if they left early. What else could they do except stay and resort to Twitter?
There really wasn’t all that much to report.
So we wait, just as Kentucky always must wait, succumbing to the dark and sneaking suspicion that nothing really ever changes here despite all those speeches in the preceding 25 days about “moving Kentucky forward.” Talk about oxymoron.
After years of refusing to make the required contributions to the pension systems, we’re surprised the system is in trouble and we wring our hands about the prospect it will go broke. Despite untold millions in tax incentives — some prefer the term corporate welfare — unemployment is at 8 percent, we remain a stubbornly poor state and lawmakers cry the sky will fall in western Kentucky if two aluminum smelters close down.
After five years during which we cut $1.6 billion from the budget, a legislative leader yet again says: “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” Well, yes, we’re spending too little on education, child care, public protection and the environment while we spend too much on prisons, projects and asphalt.
Despite how often 139 leaders talk about “moving Kentucky forward,” she seems stuck in the same place, her people insouciantly determined to live in a past which no longer exists while the rest of the world moves on without us.
But, hey, the tone has improved even if conditions for our people haven’t.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.
Well, at least the tone has improved.
Lana Bellamy: Waking up America's youth: 4/18/14
I once read a quote by a man saying the reason today’s youth do not have the same “spunk” as youth in the past is because they do not have inspiration.
Mark Maynard: Let’s just forget about it: 04/17/14
The older I get, the more forgetful I become. Does that sound familiar?
Uncovering forgotten treasures
You know the big difference between me and a hoarder? I mean, except that you can walk through my house and there are none of the disgusting aspects of hoarding in my life.
Political stories worth retelling
With Kentucky in the midst of the political season, it’s time to share some stories I’ve heard about the art of politicking.
Tim Preston: Great salmon; finding Dr. Amy; and more Maria: 4/13/14
It isn’t an especially convenient location unless you happen to be going that way, and if you don’t get there within the next couple of weeks you’ll have to wait until fall to try it out, but I had the best lunch I can remember last week at one of the last places you’d likely think of when pondering where to eat.
Restaurant horror stories; garden planning tips
In my couponing classes, I always had fun with everyone by telling them gross restaurant stories. In encouraging them to eat at home more and save their money, I was also teaching them how much cleaner it is.
Feeling happy is ...
Anyone hoping the Ashland-Huntington area will soon overtake Disney World as “the happiest place on Earth” will be waiting awhile.
Mark Maynard: Brick House (South Ashland Florist) brings in $13K so far: 04/10/14
Here’s a 14-name salute coming your way:
John Cannon: Take this joint, please: 04/09/14
Some of the things that occurred during our recent week in Jamaica were unexpected and even a bit weird. I suspect those will be the things we will still clearly remember long after the memories of the hours of lying on the beach have faded. I started to mention them in last week’s column, but opted to save them until a later date in the interest of length.
AARON SNYDER: March Madness, sadness for Cats
It’s just another game. That’s the message John Calipari preached profusely throughout the 2014 NCAA tournament. It’s typical coachspeak, but Cal’s young Kentucky team clung to the step-by-step approach to produce atypical results.
- More Columns Headlines
- Lana Bellamy: Waking up America's youth: 4/18/14