Lawmaker gives his take on the frustration, brinkmanship and political fallout of the sessions

04/13/2011 06:47 PM

It was a rollercoaster ride kind of legislative season – both the regular and special sessions – for rank-and-file members of the General Assembly in 2011. Republican state Rep. John “Bam” Carney, who represents the 51st District covering Taylor and Adair counties, said on Pure Politics he wasn’t always happy to be on the ride.

“I was frustrated, even though I’m a Republican and the majority of the Senate is Republican, I was frustrated at those actions, but I was just as frustrated at the House actions,” Carney said.

The frustration stems from the brinkmanship shown in the Kentucky House and Senate chambers, and the early endings of the sessions that eliminated the possibility of overriding potential vetoes from Gov. Steve Beshear.

Senate President David Williams essentially ended the 30-day regular legislative session without a fix for the Medicaid budget. Not to be outdone, House Speaker Greg Stumbo ended the special legislative session by agreeing with the Senate proposal to fix Medicaid — but with the promise by Beshear to veto provisions Democrats didn’t like.

“It was all about giving up that legislative authority that that body has worked so hard and diligently for years, to obtain,” Carney told cn|2’s Ryan Alessi.

As a teacher in the Taylor County School System, Carney was concerned about cuts to education proposed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

He said a lack of communication between the House and Senate, even between lawmakers in the same party, hurt the process of getting a budget fix.

“I’m very proud, as an educator, that a vast majority of our caucus stood firm on education,” Carney said. “For me, I think education is the way we move this state forward financially.”

Will Senate President David Williams, who is running for governor, be vulnerable to Democrats’ ads because he was adamant about cutting education? Carney said yes.

“Probably yes… but politically he’s very well versed,” Carney says. “I would think probably was reaching out to state employees on the furloughs, and some groups that he thought he could attract, knowing that traditionally, the education field would lean democratic normally anyway.”

But Carney acknowledged that the House proposal for balancing the Medicaid budget by transferring money from one year to the next isn’t the best fiscal policy.

“We would rather not do that. But under these circumstances…many of us anyway… a majority of us, felt like that was the first option to approach.”

- Summarized by Lanny Brannock, interview by Ryan Alessi


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