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Beshear, legislative leaders outline priorities ahead of budget battle

Posted at 6:28 AM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 06:28:25-05

(LEX 18) — Speaking in front of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night, Gov. Andy Beshear told the crowd that good business policies should be synonymous with good policies for Kentucky families.

Beshear and several legislative leaders were invited to speak at the 25th annual Chamber Day dinner, where they shared their insights into what promises to be a consequential legislative session.

Beshear knows that once he releases his budget proposal, there's bound to be sharp disagreement in some areas.

But he's urging legislators to keep their disputes civil.

"Kentuckians, I believe, made it clear that they are tired of the bitterness, and they're tired of the anger, that they expect us to leave old wounds behind and old feuds behind," he said. "I think we should agree we are at a point in time where we can agree we should have no more name-calling going forward in state government."

The night was mostly free of tension, but legislative leaders couldn't resist taking some friendly jabs at the other side.

"But if you do mess up, these Republicans seems more interested in pardoning them than impeaching them," quipped Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, referring to former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's controversial final acts.

And one from Speaker of the House David Osborne: "Before you object, Rocky [Adkins], you're not in my chamber anymore."

And Senate President Robert Stivers directed his ire toward the media.

"But I want to say this to the papers and the other media, who don't always accurately depict what goes on in Frankfort and insinuate things that are not accurate, it is not our goal to make the governor a one-term governor," Stivers said. "It is our goal to make Kentucky the best it can be."

McGarvey said the way to make Kentucky the best it can be is to make good on the governor's campaign promises.

"We must pass sports betting and medical marijuana," McGarvey said. "We should finally let the public vote on whether we want casino gaming."

But Osborne was quick to remind the room who holds the cards in the legislature, where Republicans retain supermajorities in both houses.

"As Republicans have done since becoming the majority, we will be the adults in the room," he said. "We have to since the campaign of 2019 made a lot of promises that cannot be fulfilled."

But Beshearsaid he remains hopeful that they can find common ground on issues such as education, criminal justice reform and health care. All of those issues are expected to be prioritized in his budget blueprint.

"A budget is more than a document or a law," he said, "it is a value statement."