Kentucky Political News Headlines

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A&R Committee Update

November 29, 2012

The Interim Joint Appropriations & Revenue Committee met Tuesday in Frankfort to hear testimony on several topics, but the main item of interest was a presentation from Secretary of the Cabinet & Budget Director Mary Lassiter on the Beshear Administration's budget balancing measures for Fiscal Year 2012. The key points from her presentation are below and a copy of the handouts are available HERE

- The Beshear Administration has to reduce the budget by $189 million in the current fiscal year due to budget reductions enacted by the General Assembly.

- In order to balance the $189 million, they plan to:
  • Use $75 million in excess revenues from FY 2012 as projected by the state economists
  • Make $114 million in spending reductions broken out as follows:
      • $27 million in recurring 1.5% budget cuts and non-merit reductions
      • $57 million in debt service lapse (timing of when bonds were sold)
      • $29 million in additional 2% budget cut fr FY 2012
- The Administration has announced the additional 2% cuts for FY12. The additional 2% applies to the majority of state agencies, but not all as the Administration has exempted several; including - SEEK, Medicaid, Corrections, Universities, debt service, etc.

- In essence the 2% cuts will be taken from the vast majority of state agencies, but those agencies only make up 15% of the General Fund dollars. So those exempted from the additional 2% makes up 85% of General Fund dollars.

- In addition to the presentation on the FY 2012 balancing measures, John Hicks gave an overview on the impact of Federal Sequestration, across the board cuts to Federal funds that normally flow to states beginning in 2013. The good news is that 85% of the Federal funds that flow to Kentucky are exempt from the Federal Sequestration. However, Hicks provided a scenario that could have significant impact of nearly an 9% reduction. This will impact the budget lawmakers will be putting together during the 2012 Session.

- The tone of the overall presentation by Mary Lassiter was very pessimistic, which is somewhat of a change from the upbeat news from a few months ago when Kentucky posted a large surplus in the rainy day fund and revenues seemed on the uptick.

- Legislators asked a variety of questions most of which were aimed at the Governor's priorities going into the next session and his budget recommendation. Lassiter shrugged these off saying that it was too premature to discuss those until the revenue numbers were finalized in December. She said the Governor will present his budget on January 17th.

- The Budget Chairmen Sen. Leeper and Rep. Rand definitely shared Lassiter's mood in terms of the difficulties they will face putting the next budget together. That isn't necessarily out of character for Leeper who has been outspoken in his concerns about the next budget. Rep. Rand however, had been more moderate in past meetings, but seemed to be more pessimistic today.

- Other topics that were covered by legislator questions included:

Ohio River Bridges: Rep. Wayne asked about bonding and how the Governor would approach the bridges project in 2012.  Lassiter said the Governor has shown his commitment to the project, its just premature to say what they will obligate towards bonds.

Medicaid: Leeper commented that he is aware that Medicaid has requested an additional $200 million in the request they sent to the Governor's office. Medicaid came up on a couple of occasions since the $189 million was supposed to be covered in part from the Governor's Medicaid Managed Care program.

Furloughs & Layoffs: Lassiter was clear that the administration has determined that it will not use furloughs in FY 2012. On the topic of layoffs, however Lassiter said the preference was not to use those, but that they had not taken that off the table as a policy decision in order to meet the budgeted cuts. When asked about the next budget, Lassiter said it was too premature to determine what they would do on these issues in the next biennium.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Governor's Inauguration Details

Below is the press release from the Governor's Office regarding inaugural events set for December 13. We will continue to provide you more details including an Open House we are going to host at our office that day.
Government Strategies

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Office of the Governor
Kerri Richardson

Terry Sebastian

Governor's Inauguration to be Frugal, Family-Friendly Celebration

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 28, 2011) – The upcoming 59th Kentucky Governor's Inauguration will cost significantly less than prior inaugurals but will still offer many free events suitable for Kentucky families, according to Inauguration Executive Director Bob Stewart. 

The state's two highest constitutional officers, Governor Steve Beshear and Lieutenant Governor-elect Jerry Abramson, will be sworn into office during a full day of festivities Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. The theme of the inauguration is "Kentucky Tomorrow," and the Beshears and Abramsons are encouraging Kentuckians to recognize and consider Dec.13 as a day of service.

"We are very mindful of the current economic hardships across Kentucky as we plan this inauguration. We are looking at every possible way to be frugal." Gov. Beshear said. "The vast majority of the cost of the inauguration will be covered by private funds."

Event organizers will partner with many Kentucky vendors, use existing resources and reutilize and recycle when possible to create a more conservative event than in years past, Gov. Beshear said.   

"While the inauguration is an event for all Kentuckians to enjoy, Governor Beshear and Lieutenant Governor-elect Abramson felt very strongly that our citizens should be able to enjoy our 59th inauguration without worry about the cost to taxpayers," Stewart said.

As part of the event, the Honorary Co-Chairs will be former governors Wendell Ford, Julian Carroll, John Y. Brown Jr., Martha Layne Collins, Brereton Jones, Paul Patton and Ernie Fletcher.

Public Inaugural Events
All events below are free, open to the public and handicap accessible. 

8:30 a.m. – Inaugural Worship Service, Frankfort Convention Center
Due to the change in location from a local church to the Frankfort Convention Center, this year marks the first time in recent years the inaugural worship service will be open to the public. Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth are invited to participate in the worship service – a nondenominational ceremony offering solemn preparation for the day's events.

Worshippers and attendees are encouraged to drop off new toys or monetary donations at the service to benefit the Kentucky National Guard's Operation Military Cheer, a program that supports Kentucky military families in need during the holiday season. 

*10 a.m.- noon – Inaugural Parade
The traditional inaugural parade will begin at the intersection of Wilkinson Boulevard and Broadway Street and will conclude in front of the Capitol. 

Gov. Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, and Lt. Governor-elect Abramson and Mrs. Abramson will wave to the crowd from open horse-drawn carriages provided by the Kentucky Horse Park.  

*2 p.m. – Swearing-in Ceremony, Capitol
Visitors may line up along the Capitol's grand front steps to witness Gov. Beshear take his oath of office. This inauguration marks only the second time in the state's history that a sitting governor will be sworn in to a second consecutive term. The ceremony will be emceed by Gov. Beshear's younger son, Andrew. A musical prelude begins at 1 p.m. and seating is available for the public.  

Lt. Governor-elect Abramson will be sworn in first, followed by the oath of office for Gov. Beshear. Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. will administer the oath to both officials. 

3:30 p.m. – Public Inaugural Reception, Kentucky History Center
The reception, hosted by the citizens of Frankfort, is open to all inaugural visitors. The museum will offer snacks and beverages.  The Hall of Governors at the museum was recently remodeled and will be open to the public during this event.

*8 p.m. – The Grand March, Capitol
The Grand March is a formal presentation of the Governor, newly-elected Lieutenant Governor and other constitutional officers, who will be sworn in Jan. 2. Music for the Grand March will be provided by the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra. Attire for this event is black tie optional. Doors will open for this event at 7 p.m. 

9 p.m. – Governor's Inaugural Celebration, Frankfort Convention Center
Instead of several balls at multiple locations, Gov. Beshear requested a single, centralized celebration for all Kentuckians in Frankfort. This inaugural ball will be catered by Kentucky State Parks and will serve some of the Commonwealth's favorite foods. Attire for this event is black tie optional. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and guests will be able to watch a live broadcast of the Grand March via on-site viewing screens.      

For more information and updates on public inaugural events, please visit the Governor's official inaugural website at
*Events to be broadcast live on the KET network. 


Follow Governor Beshear on Twitter @Govstevebeshear, read the Governor's personal notes on his blog at, and view the Governor's weekly YouTube commentary at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

October Revenues - Mixed Bag

The Office of the Budget Director released the October Tax Receipts for the General Fund and Road Fund today. General Fund revenues took a slight dip of 0.8%, while Road Fund revenues saw strong 13.2% growth. You can download the full press release and receipts report HERE. A few highlights:

- October is the 4th month in the Fiscal Year and the General Fund revenues have been down twice in these four months, August and now October. That being said through 4 months of this fiscal year General Fund receipts are up 3.5% YTD and only have to increase 0.3% over the next 8 months to meet the revenue estimate.

- The Road Fund growth through the first four months of this Fiscal Year is 6.6% and actually receipts can decline 3% over the remaining 8 months and still achieve the revenue estimate. However, Budget Director Lassiter predicted even stronger growth through the rest of the fiscal year.

The importance of the revenue receipts is magnified as the General Assembly session approaches in January, when the Governor and the General Assembly will work together to build the next 2 year budget. Not only are state policy makers trying to determine if there will be enough money to fund current programs, but legislators heading into an election year in November 2012 will be looking at possible projects and programs to take back home. Thus everyone is paying a little closer attention to the numbers. 

In this recent Courier-Journal article on Kentucky's current and future budget situation, it is clear that the House and Senate seem to have differing views of how the next budget might look. Certainly with the Governor's Race over the 2012 Session and its largest issue, the budget, will take center stage. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Final 2011 Election Returns

Final 2011 Election returns with 100% reporting from the Secretary of State's Office:

Candidate     Party Total Votes Percentage
Governor/Lt. Governor
David L. WILLIAMS / Richie FARMER REP 295435 35.38
Steven L. BESHEAR / Jerry E. ABRAMSON DEM 464657 55.65
Gatewood GALBRAITH / Dea RILEY IND 74923 8.97
Secretary of State
Bill JOHNSON REP 322377 39.45
Alison Lundergan GRIMES DEM 494823 60.55
Attorney General
Todd P'POOL REP 368976 45.05
Jack CONWAY DEM 450081 54.95
John T. KEMPER III. REP 350717 44.32
Adam H. EDELEN DEM 440691 55.68
K. C. CROSBIE REP 377226 46.67
L. J. Todd" HOLLENBACH" DEM 393785 48.72
Kenneth C. MOELLMAN JR. LIB 37309 4.62
Commissioner of Agriculture
James R. COMER REP 520709 63.84
Robert Bob" FARMER" DEM 294991 36.16

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Summary

2011 General Election Re-Cap

Top Headlines:
- Governor Beshear Re-Elected
- Democrats win 6 of 7 Constitutional Officers, Comer lone Republican Winner
- Voter Turnout Low

Kentuckians went to the polls today primarily to elect Kentucky's seven statewide Constitutional Officers with the featured race being for Governor of the Commonwealth between incumbent Governor Steve Beshear (D), Senate President David Williams (R), and Gatewood Galbraith an Independent.

Governor Beshear was successfully re-elected to a second term with 56% of the vote.
President Williams and Gatewood Galbraith garnered 35% and 9% respectively of the more than 800,000 votes cast in the Governor's Race. With Governor Beshear's victory his running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson (D) becomes Kentucky's Lt. Governor.

Although the Governor's Race was the featured race on the ballot the outcome was somewhat anti-climactic as Governor Beshear had shown significant strength in pre-election polling that matched his margin of victory tonight. Political observers are much more interested in what agenda Beshear might push forward in a second term after a large victory tonight. His victory speech offered a few hints; including: continuing fiscal discipline, world-class education system, and job creation is and will continue to be the top priority.

Down the Ballot

With wins in the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer races, the Democrats picked up 6 of 7 Constitutional Offices. The lone Republican winner was State Rep. James Comer who will be the next Agriculture Commissioner.

Its still early to draw significant analysis from tonight's election returns, but it is somewhat surprising that Kentucky; which has 2 U.S. Senators, 4 of the 6 Congressional Seats, and a State Senate controlled by Republicans, would see such strength by Democrats statewide. Maybe Kentucky's strong Democrat voter registration is just more persistent in these Constitutional election years.

Only three of the seven races featured incumbents, but all three won and all three were Democrats: Governor Beshear, Attorney General Conway, and Treasurer Hollenbach. So it doesn't seem that an anti-incumbent sentiment was at play today, which has been more predominant in the past few election cycles.

No doubt more analysis will be done on tonight's returns in the days ahead.

Official Returns (Winners in Yellow) 98.6% of Precincts Reporting

Voter Turnout - 28%  This is historically low, second only to the 1999 Gubernatorial Race when turnout was 20%.

Governor-Lt. Governor

Beshear-Abramson (D)  56
Williams-Farmer (R)      35
Galbraith-Riley (I)           9

Attorney General

Conway (D)   55
P'Pool (R)     45

Secretary of State

Grimes (D)    61
Johnson (R)  39


Hollenbach (D)   49
Crosbie (R)         46
Moellman (L)        5


Edelen (D)      56
Kemper (R)     44

Agriculture Commissioner

Comer (R)    64
Farmer (D)   36