Ky. approves road plan but not budget

Gov. Beshear calls for special session to finish budget to pay for highway construction

April 13, 2012

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear called a legislative special session today to try to pass a transportation budget for the state. The legislature passed a transportation plan in the wee hours of the morning Thursday, the last day of the legislative session, but the budget to fund the plan was not enacted in time.

Beshear and Senate President David Williams each blamed the other for the failure to pass the transportation budget. The Republican Senate refused to vote on the transportation budget until after the governor signed the road construction plan, which he did not do before midnight Thursday. The state constitution mandates that the legislative session last no more than 60 days, and Thursday was the 60th day. The House and Senate adjourned shortly before midnight.

The governor, a Democrat, said he could not sign the road construction plan without reviewing the thousand projects contained in it and possibly exercising his option to veto line items.

Passage of the $10 billion transportation construction plan, taking the program through 2018, also involved drama. The House and Senate passed their separate and radically different plans earlier in the legislative session but did not negotiate a compromise plan that both bodies could agree on until 2 a.m. Thursday.

Projects worth $4.5 billion would be constructed over the next two years, according to the plan. The state’s largest project, accounting for $2.6 billion, is the construction of two bridges over the Ohio River at Louisville.