Beshear's sixth TV ad attacks Williams on office spending, legislative budgets

09/09/2011 11:07 AM

After weeks of launching positive ads about his first term, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear newest commercial criticizes his Republican challenger David Williams over legislative spending.

The second half of his new 30-second ad says Beshear and Williams — the state Senate president — have “different priorities.”

The spot claims Williams approved “millions of dollars” for renovations to his Senate office in 2006 and other perks. But it’s unclear what other perks the ad references.

The 2006 renovations for state Senate offices cost $639,000, according to a December 5, 2006, article by the Courier-Journal. That did include a 60-inch plasma TV for Williams’ office costing the state $17,000. Williams later moved to the Senate chambers and replaced it with one he bought himself.

Beshear’s new spot also accuses Williams of increasing the legislative budget by 32 percent, without citing a source or time frame.

The legislative budget, as approved by the General Assembly, went up from $40.7 million in Williams’ first year as Senate president in 2000 to $56.9 million in the current fiscal year before budget cuts kicked in. During that time, the state’s total general fund revenue increased from $7 billion to $8.68 billion — about 24 percent.

During the same period, the rest of state agencies’ budget increased 45.3 percent under governors Paul Patton, Ernie Fletcher and Beshear. That includes federal and state funding for programs such as Medicaid, as well as the prison system, state employee health care and education. The judicial budget increased 63.1 percent, according to the Legislative Research Commission.

As that spending increased, the legislative budget shrunk as an overall percentage of the budget, from 0.6 percent in 2000 to 0.55 percent in 2010. That’s a 8.3 percent decrease.

Scott Jennings, a spokesman for Williams’ campaign, pointed out that the addition of annual legislative sessions and rising health care costs also occurred during the last decade, which drove up costs and added to the legislative budget.

“Despite the nasty, negative campaign being run by my opponent to cover up his abysmal record on job creation, I’m proud to report that we’ve actually shrunk the size of government in a permanent and meaningful way,” Williams said in a statement.

Williams went on to say he has “implemented deep limitations on legislative travel which led to serious cost reductions in that that category.”

This ad comes days after Williams began running a commercial that spends the first 15 seconds criticizing Beshear for failing to attract more jobs to Kentucky

Beshear’s ad will run until Monday on cable. Beshear’s campaign has scheduled a heavy ad buy on cable over the next two weeks as well. The campaign will spend an additional $85,000 in the Lexington, Louisville and Evansville markets, according to public files at Insight Communications, the parent company of cn|2.

Williams and Beshear will face off against independent Gatewood Galbraith on Nov. 8.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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