The Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate plans to go back to work in Frankfort next week, but Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear maintains that the special session is over.
Across-the-board cuts to state agencies, including education are out. So is language preventing additional furloughs, face-to-face interviews of Medicaid applicants, debt restructuring, and legislative pay during the veto recess.
The Senate vote was 22-15, along party lines, with Republicans voting Aye and Democrats voting Nay. On Monday, the House voted 94-4 for a different version of the bill, but there are some similarities. So now, House and Senate negotiators will try to reach a compromise. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says cuts to education in the Senate plan are a deal breaker.
Senate Republicans still want across-the-board cuts to state agencies, including education, to balance Medicaid. But most of the education cuts wouldn’t come until January 31, 2012. And if Governor Beshear attains 82 percent of his projected savings from Medicaid managed care before then, the legislature could rescind the cuts.
After the Senate passes the bill, House and Senate leaders likely will need to sit down to negotiate a final agreement. Since lawmakers are paid for weekends during special sessions, this is day 11 of the session.
The bill still allows Governor Steve Beshear to shift Medicaid funds forward, but if projected savings from managed care fail to materialize, targeted cuts to state agencies would have to be made by October 1st. Education, vocational rehabilitation and veterans affairs would be exempt from any cuts.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the leaders showed the governor their bipartisan plan for balancing the Medicaid budget.
House Minority Leader Jeffrey Hoover says he and Speaker Greg Stumbo are close to agreement on a compromise bill they hope will pass both the House and Senate.
Governor Steve Beshear says if lawmakers can’t reach agreement on how to close a huge deficit in this year’s Medicaid budget, he will have to cut reimbursement rates to Medicaid providers by 35% on April 1st. Steve Shannon of the Kentucky Association of Regional Mental Health Centers says if that happens, layoffs and furloughs will ensue. And right now, the centers are serving 172,000 Kentuckians with mental disabilities.
The Kentucky House has again agreed to raise the age at which students may drop out of school. It’s the third time the House has voted that way.