Friday, March 24, 2000

Measure reveals strain between Patton and GOP Senate

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT, Ky. — Stresses and strains on relations between Gov. Paul Patton and Senate Republicans were given public display Thursday.

        The catalyst was the issue of early childhood development.

        Mr. Patton went before the Senate budget committee to appeal for approval of an administration bill that already has passed the House.

        Republicans had a substitute bill that focused on older children. They intended to vote on it later in the day. Mr. Patton said it would make for a diluted initiative, and he accused Republican leaders of politicizing the issue.

        “It is clear this is not a question of policy. This is a question of politics,” Mr. Patton said.

        Mr. Patton said Mr. Williams had refused to talk to him.

        Mr. Williams was not at the budget committee but met with Mr. Patton later.

        Mr. Patton and the firmly Democratic House have increasingly been at odds with the Senate, which has the first Republican majority of its history. The budget committee is refusing to act on a House-passed tax bill. As usual, it has rejected the House's version of a budget and substituted its own, laying the groundwork for negotiations.

        “Fact is, we have a two-party system here in Frankfort now,” Mr. Williams said. “I'm the first Republican president of the Senate in history, and it's hard for them to adjust to the change.”

        As for early childhood, events moved quickly after Mr. Patton's confrontation at the budget committee.

        Mr. Patton met with Mr. Williams, Majority Leader Dan Kelly and the budget committee chairman, Sen. Richie Sanders, R-Franklin. Mr. Kelly announced in the Senate: “I think we've reached an accord.”

        Some extra funding — how much was unclear — would be found for remedial reading and literacy in early grades.


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