House passes revenue bill while delaying vote on budget bills until Thursday
03/12/2014 05:29 PM
House Democratic leaders put off votes on the state’s $20 billion two-year spending bill for another day after passing a revenue bill that adds money to the road fund and general fund on Wednesday.
The chamber passed House Bill 445 — the so called “revenue bill” — 53-44. That bill would include adding $23.4 million to the General Fund, including from a provision to lock in a tax on instant racing games at horse tracks, and $60.8 million to the state’s road fund by setting a new floor for the gas tax that would reset it to last year’s level. That’s 1.5 cents above the current gas tax rate, which fell as the wholesale price of gasoline has tailed off.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the three budget bills for the executive, legislative and judicial branches — House Bills 235, 238 and 253 — were contingent on House Bill 445 passing.
“The budget bill is balanced with some language in the revenue bill, so, if by chance, the revenue package would not have been passed, then the instant racing language and the lottery language contained therein would have called for an amendment to the budget bill,” Stumbo said.
The revenue bill didn’t pass without criticism. Forty-four lawmakers, including four Democrats, voted for an amendment offered by House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover that would have removed the 1.5 cent increase in the gas tax.“In 2009, when we last voted to establish a new floor for the gas tax, we made a commitment to the people of this commonwealth that as the price of gas fell, the tax would fall as well,” Hoover said in a statement after the vote. “This measure is not in keeping faith with the pledge we made at that time.”
As for the spending bills, leaders say they aren’t worried about not having enough votes.
Democratic Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said getting the revenue bill passed and then dealing with the three budget bills Thursday was the way to move forward.
“We got the revenue bill passed and that’s a very essential part of getting the budget bill balanced as we had it written,” said Adkins. “With the revenue bill passed and coming back tomorrow and doing all 3 bills, the executive budget, the judicial budget and the legislative budget, I think, is a good way for us to proceed.”
“I feel comfortable that there’s enough votes,” Adkins said. “I think we’ve put together a good budget.”
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