The Richmond Register


March 20, 2011

More than meets the eye

RICHMOND — Those searching for progress on the stand-off in Frankfort might not realize it, but there’s more (politics) going on than meets the eye.

Gov. Steve Beshear called a special session to amend the budget to cover a Medicaid shortfall. He and House Democrats want to move money from next year’s budget to cover it and then make that up next year with managed care savings. Republican Senate President David Williams — who like Beshear is running for governor — wants to cut other services to make up the shortfall. Complicating things further, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover and most of his Republican caucus don’t want to cut education.

Fueling both sides’ positions of course is the governor’s race. Beshear and Democrats count on support from the Kentucky Education Association which represents teachers and KEA relies on them not to cut education. Williams seems convinced that public disaffection with federal government spending will carry him to a win in first the Republican primary and then this fall if he holds firm on “living within our means.” Usually the master of the Frankfort political chess board, Williams (so far) appears outmaneuvered by House Speaker Greg Stumbo (you were expecting Beshear?). Williams is trying to find a way to stick with his cuts, but show Republicans support education while persuading the House to deal.

But Hoover’s statement in the last days of the regular session that his caucus opposes cuts to education has cornered Williams, again for now. He has a history of pulling a rabbit out of the legislative hat. As Williams squirmed and sometimes fumed, Beshear began flying around the state Monday criticizing Williams’ “obstruction” and accusing him of wasting taxpayers’ money by forcing a special session. But Beshear mishandled a question about the cost of the fly-around, saying he was just doing his job as governor and is “not going to apologize for a minute” for the cost.

While they fight it out, Hoover and Stumbo strengthened their positions with their members. Stumbo was greeted by applause from his members when he and Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark refused to back off their position in negotiations with Williams who often out maneuvered House Democrats under former Speaker Jody Richards. As one lobbyist put it: “If Jody were still Speaker, we’d already have a deal. Of course, it would be David’s deal.”

There are a some dissidents but Hoover has significantly strengthened his position with House Republicans. That’s because a they wanted to deliver a message to Williams only slightly different than the one House Democrats wished to deliver. Williams typically ignores the House Republicans until negotiations reach a climax and then tells them what position he expects them to take. Hoover’s moves have made House Republicans relevant again and they’ve also made themselves important to Beshear’s and Stumbo’s strategy. If Hoover’s members aren’t included in House negotiations, it undercuts the Democrats’ claim that only Williams stands in the way of an otherwise bi-partisan deal.

There are conflicting accounts of how Republican heavyweights who support Williams for governor are viewing all of this. I’ve been told they want him to hold firm on a position they think sells with the public while others say some view his stance as a miscalculation. For now the question is whether Williams will pull that rabbit out of his hat, maintain the standoff indefinitely or ultimately get the best deal he can and declare that if the Beshear plan fails the flood of cuts next January will be on the Democrats’ — and Hoover’s — hands.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort, Ky. He may be contacted by email at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

Text Only
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Officials Warn of Avoidable Death in Hot Cars Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

What county fair attraction do you like most?

Amusement rides
Beauty pageants
Flora Hall craft exhibits
Horse shows
Livestock, poultry shows
Truck, tractor pulls
Mud, dirt races
Gospel sing
I like them all
     View Results