Friday, July 19, 2002

Talks on Ky. budget proposed


Senate chief Williams writes to counterpart in House

By The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT - The president of the Kentucky Senate has proposed a fresh round of meetings aimed at getting a state budget.

        In light of the state's worsening revenue outlook, “it is imperative that the General Assembly engage in ... overall budget discussions without delay,” Senate President David Williams, a Republican, said in a letter to House Speaker Jody Richards, a Democrat.

        Mr. Williams' letter, released Thursday, followed but did not directly respond to a letter in which Mr. Richards forwarded a new House Democrat proposal on the issue that caused a budget impasse - partial public financing of gubernatorial campaigns.

        The House and Senate failed to enact a budget during the 2002 session and again during a special session called by Gov. Paul Patton. The hang-up each time was over campaign finance.

        House Democrats, with Mr. Patton's backing, want to retain partial public financing. The Senate's version of a budget would have eliminated it.

        The latest House proposal is for public funding in primaries and runoffs but no public funding in the general election, provided both parties' gubernatorial slates agreed to a $3 million spending limit. If a slate refused to take part and spent more than $3 million, the other slate would get public funds to keep up.

        To date, Republicans have insisted on abolishing use of public funds in any election.

        In his letter, Mr. Williams proposed meetings of the combined House and Senate leadership, members of each chamber's budget committee and the General Assembly's budget staff. The executive branch would be represented by the state budget director, Jim Ramsey.

        Mr. Richards, in a telephone interview from Bowling Green, had little to say about Mr. Williams' proposal for meetings.

        “Those are not necessary if we can't get over the other issue of campaign finance,” Mr. Richards said.

       



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