General Assembly should have gotten a budget deal passed

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By John Whitlock

I’ve written a lot of columns and editorials in my time but this is the first time I’ve ever quoted Otto von Bismarck, the German politician from the 19th century.

“Politics is the art of the possible,” Bismarck once said.

The 2010 Kentucky General Assembly ended its regular session last week without doing the single-most important thing it is supposed to accomplish – get a state budget passed.

Now, the legislators will be called back into session later this summer to pass a compromise bill.

It costs taxpayers about $68,000 a day and the General Assembly will have to be in session for at least three days to get a budget passed.

The two sides in the debate – one supporting going in debt to pay for needed building projects that would spark the commonwealth’s economy, and another that calls for cutting services, jobs and programs to balance the budget – could not reach a deal after more than three months in session.

There are merits to both positions, but forcing a special session is a setback for both sides.

Standing on principles is admirable, but not when it defeats the  very ideas you seek to defend – in this case helping spend or save tax dollars.

A deal was possible, but this delay must leave taxpayers with a sense they were defeated by simple politics.