FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Billions of dollars in Kentucky road projects were in jeopardy Monday night after House and Senate leaders could not agree on a two-year spending plan.
Lawmakers agree on the big projects - like the Brent Spence Bridge in northern Kentucky and the Mountain Parkway in eastern Kentucky - but they cannot come to terms on the hundreds of smaller projects scattered throughout the state.
Republican state senators blamed the House for refusing to meet with them during the two-week veto period that ended Friday. Democratic representatives blamed the Senate for leaving the Capitol about 5 p.m. to have dinner at the Frankfort Country Club to honor retiring senators.
The state constitution requires lawmakers to adjourn for the year by midnight April 15. Monday night, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said it was still possible for lawmakers to reach an agreement. If they can't, Stivers said the Senate will likely pass a bill allowing the state to pay for projects that have already been approved.
"We can give the transportation cabinet enough authority through a continuing budget resolution bill to go ahead and continue operations," Stivers said. "Then we'll be back here in less than nine months and can fill in the gaps."
But Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the House would not pass a continuing resolution.
"They will say to us, 'Either take it or leave it,' and we are not going to take it," Stumbo said.
Stumbo said the legislature most likely will be called back to Frankfort for a special session if they adjourn Tuesday without a road spending plan. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said he hopes that will not happen.
"I don't think anyone will be satisfied with just a continuation of the current plan," Beshear said. "I'm going to be working with both Democratic House and Senate leaders to try and make sure we have a new road plan by tomorrow."