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A week of special session for Kentucky legislators will cost nearly half a million dollars - at the going rate of $64,000 a day. But, apparently, grandstanding is more important than solving the state's budget problems.
We have a simple question: Why is the Medicaid issue still unsolved?
Legislators left Frankfort last week at the end of the regular session with their work unfinished. That's when Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear immediately announced the need for a special session to fix the Medicaid problem and pass a bill that would raise Kentucky's school dropout age to 18.
The deficit in the Medicaid program has apparently become a political ping-pong ball, leaving the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-led House at loggerheads.
Republican Senate President David Williams, who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for the governorship, says Beshear is only using the Medicaid issue to get re-elected.
Beshear wants to switch $166.5 million from next year's budget to cover this year's deficit and then privatize some Medicaid programs to balance next year's budget.
On the other hand, Williams wants to cut funding to all government agencies and programs to free up money for Medicaid. And, he says, the drop-out age won't even be addressed.
They appear to be facing a brick wall on both sides.
It seems as if monumental issues are taking a back seat to less pressing bills such as fireworks and hunting and fishing. Shouldn't an issue that affects so many - from the recipients of Medicaid to doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health providers - take priority?
In fact, why can't state business be done during "business hours?"
Are legislators wasting time trying to tackle too many issues during a session? We don't know, but special sessions appear to have become a regular pattern, the ninth since annual sessions began in 2001. And that costs all of us too much money.
It's not like legislators are inexperienced; most of them have been members of the General Assembly for years. If they can't get the job done during the allotted time and a special session is needed, then perhaps it needs to be on their own dime. Maybe then they would get the job done.
We're certainly not saying we know more than our legislators. However, if any one of us didn't do our job within a certain amount of time, we would have to answer to someone higher up the chain of command.
We can't help but wonder how well it would go over if Kentucky residents decided they just didn't want to pay their state taxes this year, that they will "take care of that later."
We're thinking that no one would get away with that for long. And state legislators shouldn't either.