Stumbo slams Senate budget changes, predicts legislative extra innings

05/28/2010 10:25 AM

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, left, talks with Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, and John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty

(UPDATED 10:57 a.m.) House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Friday morning that the House didn’t like several key changes to the budget that the Senate made Thursday night. putting into question whether any bill will be approved by the end of Friday.

That has prompted Senate leaders to take a step back to talk with House leaders before tempers flare and agreements collapse.

Sen. Robert Stivers, the Senate Republican floor leader, told reporters shortly before 11 a.m. that “based on statements made by the House … we’re going to make some changes and have discussions.”

Stumbo said Democrats don’t like the Senate’s proposal on helping pay for crumbling school buildings because their analysis shows that it gives preference to two districts — Paducah Independent and Beechwood Independent school districts.

Sen. Bob Leeper, a Paducah independent and chairman of the Senate budget committee, disputed Stumbo’s interpretation of the Senate’s version of the school construction provision.

“It’s not unfair,” he said. “It’s spread over all districts and both sides of the aisle.”

He said he thought Stumbo was confused by the changes, but he wouldn’t speculate as to whether Senate and House leaders would end up across a negotiating table in a conference committee to get the budget done.

But he told reporters he was clinging to hope that lawmakers could avoid a conference committee and finish Friday.

Stumbo said he thought it was now likely that the House and Senate could end up in a conference committee Friday — or Saturday or even next week. Or if the Senate adjourns after passing their version of the budget today, “then we’ll go home without a budget.”

Stumbo wasn’t certain any of the major pieces of legislation on the special session’s agenda would be passed.

“We’ve got some resolutions that might get through,” he said dryly.

Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook and the majority floor leader, said the House will recess until 1 p.m. to review the budget changes.

“The Senate’s just blowing things up all over the place,” said Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville. “We thought we had an agreement.”

- Ryan Alessi and Kenny Colston


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