Democrats should help override vetoes

-A A +A

Guest editorial by Damon Thayer

During the special session last week, the Senate created a responsible approach to solving the Medicaid budget shortfall. The House of Representatives agreed with the Senate plan and the bill was sent to Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk. However, late Friday, March 25, the governor vetoed all of the important accountability provisions and is now left with an unrestricted checkbook combined with an unlimited credit card funded with your tax dollars.
The Senate plan fully funded Medicaid services while protecting your taxpayer money. The governor was provided with the necessary funds to get through the rest of the fiscal year but instead of betting Kentucky’s future financial security on an assumed promise, both the Senate and the House agreed that the governor should report to the General Assembly on a monthly basis his progress in achieving Medicaid cost savings. This bipartisan agreement required accountability measures documenting any Medicaid managed care savings, mandated reductions in non-merit personnel and personal service contracts, limited debt restructuring, and prohibited the governor from furloughing any state employees.  The bill also suspended any legislator compensation, meaning that no legislator would receive pay during the current veto recess. Finally, the Senate plan required an independent firm to verify the governor’s savings and mandated face-to-face interviews to help root out Medicaid fraud. Every one of these key provisions was vetoed by the governor.
It now appears that the majority Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives is refusing to come back to Frankfort and override these shocking vetoes, despite calls from House and Senate Republicans to return to work.
I urge you to please contact Democratic representatives and ask them not to follow the example of legislators in Wisconsin and Indiana who ran away from their public duties. They must return to Frankfort and override these vetoes that if allowed to stand, will eliminate all spending constraints on the governor. Messages for state representatives can be left toll-free by dialing (800) 372-7181 or TTY (800) 896-0305. Senators have already pledged not to accept one dime in payment for this time. We cannot spend or tax our way into prosperity and all public officials must be held accountable for their spending.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181 or by e-mailing me at damon.thayer@lrc.ky.gov.