FRANKFORT — Deciding which side was playing politics Friday with speeches about the state budget and next week’s schedules is probably like the old Pete Seeger union organizing tune: “Whose side are you on, boy? Whose side are you on?”
Friday began with speeches in the Senate complaining about the pace of budget deliberations with Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, repeating a frequent Senate complaint: that the Democratic-controlled House was taking too long before sending the Republican-controlled Senate a budget.
(The constitution requires that bills dealing with revenues, taxes and spending originate in the House.)
Sen. Walter Blevins, D-Morehead, responded by saying Republican leaders had a copy of the governor’s budget proposal but still hadn’t scheduled a meeting of the Appropriations and Revenue.
A&R Chairman Bob Leeper, I-Paducah, wasn’t present but Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, a member of the committee said committee members had met many nights to discuss the budget.
“There may be members of the majority party meeting,” Blevins responded, “but there has not been but one meeting when members of the minority party were there.”
Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, reminded a reporter that during an era when Democrats controlled the state Senate, then budget chairman Mike Maloney, a Democrat, “used to lock the budget in a room” and late in the session present his version of it for passage.
A short time later in the House, Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said he felt “compelled to speak on an issue that is concerning to me,” going on to say that while the 60-day legislative session is just over half complete, “we are yet to discuss the governor’s budget.”
He warned colleagues that the public is never unhappier with lawmakers than in the years they failed to pass a budget, requiring a subsequent special session to perform the one legislative duty specified in the constitution.