FRANKFORT, Ky. -— The Republican led legislature overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s line-item vetoes to several budget bills.
In an effort to save time the House and Senate grouped together each line-item veto to be voted on as one instead of each individual line item. Democrats in both chambers largely objected to this practice.
“These cuts were made with a scalpel not a cleaver,” said Senate Floor Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville. “To do this all at once to save time, this is the most important thing we can do is go over the budget that the legislature uses to appropriate money, if we are not taking the time to go through the budget or to go over bills related to COVID-19 then we are not using our time wisely today.”
Beshear made more than a dozen line item vetoes on HB 351, the Executive Branch budget measure, citing the need for more flexibility in spending as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democrats in the House floor pleaded with Republicans to uphold the vetoes.
“We are not suggesting utter and complete power to the governor, these are extraordinary times,” House Minority Whip Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg, said. “The governor needs flexibility when it comes to the restricted funds, it has never been limited why would it be limited now?”
“Let’s have the courage to move forward, lets give the governor what he needs in the administration to move forward and do the things that the state of Kentucky is doing and address all the sacrifices that these people are having to go through,” added Rep. Jeff Donahue, D-Louisville “Let’s give him the flexibility to do what he needs to do.”
Republicans however argued they built flexibility into the budget.
“I don’t know of any specific areas where we are truly giving him limits on how he can deal with the coronavirus,” said Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah.
“We have no intentions of tying the hands today and I think we can in multiple items throughout this budget,” added House Majority Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro. “We expanded the call center a tremendous amount of money in that to ensure people had access to that but it seems to have fallen onto deaf ears and eyes today.”
Lawmakers also overrode House Bill 151, the revenue measure despite claims Beshear was not allowed to make line-item vetoes on the measure because it was not an appropriation bill.
“The governor overstepped his bounds and did not follow the law in the matters of this veto,” said Rudy “Mr. Speaker it is in my opinion that these vetoes are invalid.”
Republicans moved forward with the veto override “out of an abundance of caution”, but Democrats defended Beshear’s use of the line-item veto.
“If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck and spends money like a duck then it’s a duck,” said Hatton. “We might call this not an appropriations measure because we cut and pasted some appropriation language and put it into a revenue bill, but this is appropriation language.”
The two chambers also voted to keep the Transportation Cabinet budget (HB 353) and the road fund (HB 354) in their original forms.