stalks House chamber claiming no one working
Democrats claim Bevin either misleading or ignorant of the process
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is taking an unconventional approach to negotiating with House Democrats on a two-year spending plan.
Bevin released a video Monday morning on his social media sites claiming lawmakers aren’t showing up for work on the budget.
In the video posted below, Bevin goes straight to his supporters with what he claims is inaction on the state’s $21.8 billion biennial spending plan which the House received on Jan. 26.
Since the House got the budget their committees have been holding hearings and vetting the spending proposals which call for 4.5 percent cuts in the current fiscal year and a 9 percent reduction in fiscal years 2017 and 2018.
Bevin’s budget pumps more dollars into struggling state pension systems, and it carves out $100 million bond pool for workforce development projects and $64 million from the Kentucky Lottery to expand dual-credit programs in the state’s high schools with assistance from the state’s postsecondary institutions.
The video features the first year Republican governor speaking direct to camera in the state Capitol. Bevin leads viewers to the empty House chambers claiming Democrats have been dragging their feet and not working.
“It is 11 o’clock on a Monday there is nobody in here, this House, we have less than 19 days left now for this House to be in session together in the Senate and there is nothing being done,” Bevin said. “There is not a soul in here except for me. What are people doing?”
Bevin’s video and commentary misses the fact that lawmakers work from the Capitol Annex next door to the Capitol in committee meetings and behind the scenes working groups, and not gavelling into session in the chambers in both the Republican led Senate and the Democratic led House until 4pm on Monday.
Bevin’s budget has gone through numerous House and Senate committees in the 27 working days since the House received the $21.8 billion biennial spending plan and complicating the matter is vagueness within the plan, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said.
“Our budget subcommittees have been meeting every day,” Stumbo said. “The governor, if he’d been here Friday, would have known that we don’t go in until 4pm on (Monday) because we have so many members that we don’t have the benefit of the state airplane like he does.
“If he cared to walk across here, maybe someone would be happy to send a trooper to give him a tour, this is where the work goes on as it has today,” Stumbo said, speaking of the annex where legislative offices and meeting rooms are located.
One of the problems, Stumbo said House budget subcommittees are running into is a lack of information from cabinet secretaries on specific issues, he said pointing to the bond issuance of $100 million for the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet in Bevin’s plan.
The Kentucky Democratic Party also took offense to Bevin’s video, in a statement KDP Chair Sannie Overly questioned the video as either ignorance or purposefully misleading.
“Either Gov. Matt Bevin doesn’t know how the process works, or he was trying to distort the truth and mislead people with his video today on social media,” said Rep. Sannie Overly, chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “While Gov. Bevin was trying to be the star of his own phony reality show at the wrong place, House lawmakers were heading to work in the Capitol Annex, where committee meetings happen every day during session.”