The House has adjourned until March 21st, to give the governor time to consider vetoes. But Senate Republicans say they will convene the Senate today, which would be the 30th and final day of the session.
House leaders cried foul, but Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers says the House walked out of a special session during the Fletcher administration.
House and Senate negotiators ended their discussions shortly before 5 pm Tuesday with no additional talks scheduled. That potentially leaves Governor Steve Beshear with two options: cut reimbursements to medical providers or cut services to some of the more than 800,000 poor, disabled and elderly Medicaid recipients.
The House prefers the governor’s plan for balancing Medicaid without budget cuts. The Senate believes across-the-board cuts to state agencies are necessary. At this point, with time running out on the session, neither side appears willing to bend. This is day 29 of the 30-day session.
At the behest of the House, the conference committee revisited Governor Beshear’s plan for balancing the Medicaid budget. Two hours later, the conferees were no closer to agreement than when they started Friday night. So, House Speaker Greg Stumbo offered a compromise.
After the House proposed a way to close a $166 million gap in the Medicaid budget without across-the-board cuts to state agencies, the Senate made a counter-proposal. It still includes across-the-board cuts, but they’re smaller, says Senate President David Williams.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is encouraged with how the talks are going so far. So is Senate budget chairman Bob Leeper, but more discussion is needed. With only two days left in the session, the conferees will have to scramble to find common ground.
Governor Beshear and the Democratic-controlled House want to shift second year funds to the current year, to fill a huge hole in the Medicaid budget. Any second year deficits would be covered by savings from managed care. The Republican-controlled Senate prefers small, across-the-board cuts to state agencies, including education. Only three days remain in the 30-day session.