Kentucky Legislative Session Ends, Only to Restart
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Led by Senate President David Williams - a Republican who is running for governor in the election later this year - Kentucky lawmakers adjourned their regular legislative session nearly two weeks early on Wednesday (March 9), without addressing a shortfall in the Medicaid budget. That didn't please Beshear, a Democrat who condemned Williams for the move and immediately ordered lawmakers to return in a special session next week.
In adjourning the session, Beshear said, Williams made a "careless and cavalier decision to abandon his duty" that "carries grave consequences for people all across Kentucky," The Courier-Journal of Louisville quoted the governor as saying . The Senate president, in turn, accused Beshear of making a "vitriolic and personal attack" against him. "I hope when we adjourn today, after appropriately using the last legislative day, that the governor will go back to his office, sit down, take a deep breath and reflect upon whether this is the way to establish himself as the leader of the commonwealth," Williams said.
Just last week, Beshear and Williams appeared together as the governor signed a bipartisan prison reform bill into law. But Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, has proven far more divisive. The Democratic governor wants Williams and the Republican-led Senate to adopt his funding plan, while criticizing the GOP's own proposal as "draconian" and potentially resulting in diminished health services for hundreds of thousands of residents.
Gubernatorial politics are sure to complicate negotiations going forward. Beshear is unopposed in the Democratic primary, while Williams is one of three Republicans vying to challenge him.