Williams challenges Beshear to debate on television

By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - The first day of the special session in Frankfort brings the price tag to nearly $64,000. Lawmakers still haven't agreed how to plug the multi-million dollar hole in the state's medicaid budget. Republican senators calling for cuts. The democratic governor wants to shift money and bank on future savings. Now Senate President David Williams is calling for a televised statewide debate on the issue.

"He hasn't moved any," Williams said of Gov. Steve Beshear. "It's his way or the high way and he makes that accusation against everybody else, including and in particular the Senate President and the state Senate."

Beshear said in a statement: "The facts are clear, and there is nothing to debate. I have proposed a sensible plan to balance the Medicaid budget with Medicaid money, which passed the House 80 to 19 with strong bipartisan support."

The Governor started the morning with a press conference at Lexington's airport, then flew to northern Kentucky where he took jabs himself. Blaming the Senate republicans for waiting so long to come up with another plan. Beshear unveiled his plan late last year.

"Three days before the end of that session, Sen. David Williams and a group of republican senators came out with an alternative proposal," said Beshear. "That alternative proposal is to balance our medicaid budget on the backs of our school children, our college students, our veterans, our social workers, our seniors by across the board cuts."

Williams proposed cuts include education, which Beshear has been against.

After Beshear's second press conference Williams called a one of his own.

"The governor is out flying around on state taxpayers' dollars today while we showed up for work, just like we showed up to work last week," said Williams.

He instead challenged Beshear to a debate on KET.

"So that we can put both sides of this budget controversy in front of the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," said Williams.

Williams says he has talked to attorneys who say since the Governor re-opened the budget, they can file more legislation that was on the call. He says senators will file four bills including one to freeze pay this session and another to address future sessions.

"We're going to propose a permanent change to the statute that says in any future special sessions of the General Assembly, in order to get paid, the legislation's will have to vote on a pay bill and justify why they should be paid in those sessions."

Williams also called on Beshear to repay the cost of his trips to fly to the press conferences statewide. He has more scheduled for Tuesday. Beshear is calling on Kentuckians to contact their senators to end the stalemate.

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