Senate Republicans ready for veto

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Guest editorial by Damon Thayer

The taxpayer scored a legislative victory this week when the House passed the Senate’s Medicaid budget proposal during the current special session.
Throughout the course of the Medicaid debate, the Governor and the Secretary of Health and Family Services have both been adamant that they can come up with $139 million in efficiencies and managed care to fill the Medicaid budget shortfall over the upcoming fiscal year. In the Senate, we feel it is our responsibility to trust, but verify their assumptions.
Our plan requires the Governor’s cost-savings to be evaluated and verified by an independent accounting firm. It also credits the Governor for savings already achieved, it is a responsible proposal that fully funds Medicaid services this year while protecting the taxpayer and holding the Governor accountable through a variety of initiatives.
If the Governor can manage the Medicaid budget as he says, than cuts in the Senate plan to state government will be restored. However, if he cannot achieve these savings, the Senate plan implements, with some exemptions, across-the-board cuts of .355-percent reductions to state agencies for the remaining three months of the current fiscal year and 1.74-percent reductions in the next fiscal year.
However, none of these reductions apply to school district funding or postsecondary education in the current year. But on Jan. 30, 2012, K-12 funding would be reduced by .812 percent and postsecondary by 1.74 percent. Again, if the Governor meets his cost-savings targets, education cuts will be fully restored. I would also like to point out that both Judicial and Legislative Branches will share in these cuts.
As many of you may be aware, the House Majority Leadership is counting on the Governor vetoing portions of the Senate plan and refusing to override those vetoes. I believe this is irresponsible and puts the state budget in future peril and increases the risk for deeper government cuts or possible tax increases in the future. The Senate has adjourned until April 6 in order to come back to Frankfort and override any line item vetoes to the Senate plan the Governor may make.
The Senate inserted in the successful legislation a provision that will not allow legislators to be paid during this veto period.
I would hope the House lives up to their Constitutional obligation to vote on overriding any vetoes. 
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