Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

State News

March 14, 2014

State House passes $20.3 billion budget

(Continued)

FRANKFORT — Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, said a vote for the budget was a vote for Obamacare. Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, quizzed Rand on how much money was in the budget to cover the expanded Medicaid costs and running the health benefit exchanges.

At that point, Rand said the Republicans’ questions weren’t about the budget but about “Washington-style politics” and Republicans would shut down state government by holding up the budget.

After that, several Republicans got up to say it wasn’t about politics or the fall election in which they hope to take control of the House from Democrats — but they often talked about “Obamacare,” an issue Republicans have openly talked about using in the election in Kentucky and in other states. Democrats sounded political themes, too.

Republicans accused Democrats of “being afraid to have the discussion” about the way Beshear implemented the law by executive order rather than seeking legislative approval.

A few Democrats rose to defend the new law, the Affordable Care Act, while others commended Beshear for operating a state exchange rather than leaving the health exchange to be operated by the federal government.

But on one procedural vote about whether to consider an amendment by Fischer to delete funding for the exchanges, 29 Democrats didn’t vote. But because Republicans could only muster 46 votes, it wasn’t enough to require a vote on the amendment itself.

Eventually Hoover and others returned to the financial aspects of the budget, criticizing the level of debt and some of the spending decisions. Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Brownsville, criticized the “sweeping” of restricted funds for general fund expenses.

Hoover also criticized the imposition of student fees at community colleges to finance new construction at those campuses.

After a litany of speeches, the vote finally came and as expected the measure passed 53-46. Two Republicans — Jim Stewart of Flat Lick and Steve Rudy of Paducah — voted for the bill. Two Democrats — Jim Wayne of Louisville and Arnold Simpson of Covington — voted against it.

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