House leaders unexpectedly delay vote on Kentucky's budget - News, Weather & Sports

House leaders unexpectedly delay vote on Kentucky's budget

Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins
Republican Leader Jeff Hoover Republican Leader Jeff Hoover
Rep. Rick Rand Rep. Rick Rand

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - After laying out how Kentucky would collect tax revenue, including an increase in the state's gas tax, House leaders suddenly announced they were delaying a vote on how to spend the money.

First, the House voted 53-44 on Wednesday afternoon to pass a revenue bill, which calls for an increase in the motor fuels tax and a new tax on instant racing, or electronic gambling machines.

After nearly three hours in the chamber, Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins told House members they were putting off a vote on the state's two-year, $20.3 billion spending plan until Thursday.

"It's an advantage for our staff and us to continue to look at a very complex document," Adkins said afterward in an interview with reporters. "We can come in fresh tomorrow. We had a pretty long day."

Speaker Greg Stumbo said immediately after the House adjourned for the day that he wasn't sure why Adkins postponed the budget vote. Democratic leaders have enough votes to pass their budget, Stumbo said.

Republican Leader Jeff Hoover said the delay caught him by surprise because he expected to vote on the budget Wednesday.

"I think they only reason you don't (hold a vote) is if you're concerned that you don't have the votes," Hoover said.

Hoover said Republicans were in "near-lockstep" with their plans to vote against the budget bill. He didn't know how many of his members would cross over and vote with Democrats, who hold a 54-46 majority in the chamber.

"I feel confident that we have the votes," Adkins said. "Matter of fact, I think members will come in more confident tomorrow than they were today."

Earlier, Democrats defeated a Republican amendment that aimed to stop a 1.5 cent increase in the state's gas tax, which is currently 30.8 cents per gallon. The increase would boost the tax back to the level it was at in December.

"I don't think the people of Kentucky want us to do that," Hoover said during floor debate.

Democrats said drivers would never see savings, even if lawmakers decreased the tax.

"You ask, where has that money gone (since December)? We know where it's gone. It's gone to the profits of the big oil companies," said Rep. Rick Rand, the budget committee chairman. "They're putting it in their pockets, and if you want to stand up and defend that, stand up and defend it."

The revenue-collecting measure, which is House Bill 445, also includes a $1 million cap on tax breaks for the film industry and extends a $1 fee charged on the purchase of a new tire.

Republicans said they planned to offer several amendments to the budget bill when it comes up for debate Thursday. They include a provision denouncing the federal Affordable Care Act and a  measure taking money from the budget of Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat who last week said he would not defend Kentucky's gay marriage ban against a legal challenge.

Democrats have said their budget will be similar to Gov. Steve Beshear's proposals to increase funding for K-12 schools and cut money from elsewhere, including higher education.

The House's budget includes bonding to build a new University of Louisville classroom building, expand the convention center in downtown Louisville, and make renovations at Rupp Arena.

The revenue and budget bills still need Senate approval.

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