Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Special session open


Patton offers to broker deal to get budget done

By Charles Wolfe
Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Gov. Paul Patton on Monday said the General Assembly would be “abdicating its responsibility” if it again adjourned without enacting a budget.

        He offered “to serve as an honest broker” in talks to break the General Assembly's impasse over partial public financing of gubernatorial campaigns, an issue in which the budget has become entangled.

        Mr. Patton, in a speech to lawmakers Monday night, said he was inviting leaders of the House and Senate to send delegations for talks, beginning today.

        “I stand ready to serve as an honest broker. I have no dog in this fight,” Mr. Patton said.

        Kentucky's 10-year-old campaign finance system allows candidate slates for governor and lieutenant governor to use public matching funds if they adhere to spending limits. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that spending limits are otherwise unconstitutional.

        Republicans who control the Senate want to abolish partial public funding. Their version of a budget bill contained that dictate.

        The House insisted on keeping partial public funding.

        As a result, the session ended last week with no budget. Mr. Patton called legislators back into session Monday to try again.

        Senate President David Williams proposed ending the special session Monday night but leaving a handful of legislators in town to negotiate a budget deal. He said Mr. Patton could reconvene the General Assembly when a deal was reached. The House would have to agree to an early adjourn ment.

        “This would be the legislature abdicating its responsibility to enact a budget,” Mr. Patton said.

        “I want the people of Kentucky to know that this deadlock has been caused because the Senate has, at the last minute, held the budget hostage in an effort to force a major public policy change without adequate public input and debate,” Mr. Patton said.

        The House ignored the Senate's adjournment suggestion. Mr. Patton asked leaders of the two chambers to make campaign finance a separate issue.

        “There's more than enough time for reasonable people to resolve their differences on the next governor's race without unnecessarily prolonging this special session,” Mr. Patton said.

        Also Monday, 120 school superintendents said that increased state spending isn't enough, voting unanimously to authorize attorneys to pursue legal options if raises for school employees aren't fully funded.

       



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