FRANKFORT — In a last-minute surprise, Democratic state House leaders postponed a vote on the new two-year state budget Wednesday afternoon, but declared the delay was not due to a lack of votes.
The House was scheduled to vote on a $20.3 billion biennial budget that includes additional bonded indebtedness, sweeps about $300 million from restricted funds and uses a companion revenue bill with a couple of controversial tax measures.
Republicans had filed a series of amendments they planned to call during debate, which was expected to be lengthy and might provide fodder for campaign ads and rhetoric this fall when the GOP hopes to reverse Democrats’ 54-46 majority.
The House passed the revenue bill and voted on several non-budget bills before Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, announced the budget vote would be put off until Thursday. Afterward, both Adkins and Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, denied any concerns about having enough votes to pass the bill.
But Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, and Republican Whip John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville, suggested Democrats might be reviewing their vote counts.
Hoover pointed to four Democrats who voted with Republicans on his amendment to leave unchanged Kentucky’s motor fuels tax, which normally rises and falls with the level of wholesale taxes. But the revenue bill would lock the rate in at December 2013 level of 30.8 cents a gallon, about 2.2 cents higher than if the tax were recalculated based on current wholesale prices.
Hoover’s amendment failed, but four Democrats — Dennis Keene of Wilder, Martha Jane King of Lewisburg, Steve Riggs of Louisville and Arnold Simpson of Covington — voted for it. One Republican, Jim Stewart of Flat Lick, voted with Democrats against the amendment.
The revenue bill then passed 53-44 with Simpson voting against it.
Democratic Whip Tommy Thompson, D-Owensboro, said there was no concern about having the votes to pass the bill.