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The politics of rules, and vice versa

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The issue: Special legislative sessions Our view: Politicians doing what they do best

This year’s General Assembly in Frankfort came to a familiar end. The regular session was followed by a coda — special session — to finally tie things up.
The sticking point was how to patch a $140 million shortfall in this year’s Medicaid budget.
Gov. Steve Beshear’s plan, in short, was to “borrow” money from the second year of Medicaid’s budget and cut spending next year through privatization.
Senate Republicans, led by David Williams of Burkesville, wanted across-the-board spending cuts, including to education.
Neither side was prepared to budge.
So in what was either a brilliant tactical move or a cynical political maneuver, Williams recessed the Senate. The move forced the House into ending its regular session, too.
With such a major issue still unresolved, the governor called a special session.
Williams said by recessing, taxpayers would be saved $800,000 and the onus of the cost of a special session — about $64,000 a day — landed squarely on the governor’s shoulders.
Late Thursday, the House approved the Senate plan, but did so only after the governor assured representatives that he would use his line-item veto to strike what Democratic leaders considered objectable provisions.
Interesting power, that line-item veto.
Underlying all this maneuvering are Beshear’s and Williams’ gubernatorial aspirations. Beshear wants a second term and Williams is one of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the office.
It’s been said that whichever side knows parliamentary procedure best always wins, but the line-item veto adds a new wrinkle to that proverb. Mix in a campaign or two and the mud starts flying.
We shouldn’t be surprised when politicians we send to Frankfort play politics. After all, that’s what they do best. It’s going to be an interesting spring.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.