Work on a new Kentucky state budget is slowing in Frankfort—because of a a basketball game.
Interest in tonight's NCAA Tournament matchup between the Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats is the latest delaying factor in an already contentious day.
With only a handful of days left in the session, lawmakers are behind schedule on passing the only bill they’re required to: A $20.3 billion biennial budget.
This morning’s talks broke down after Rep. Larry Clark, a Louisville Democrat, accused Sen. Bob Leeper, the Senate’s budget chair, of not having a heart over the Senate’s proposed cuts to cancer screenings.
With snark-levels reaching a fevered pitch, Senate President Robert Stivers said he’ll go directly to the governor if not enough progress has been made over the weekend.
“Insistently thinks he can push us to the end, to a limit, and we’re not gonna do that," said Stivers, a Republican.
"He agreed to this calendar. If he wants to break the agreement, that’s his choice. We’ll start dealing with the governor.”
Stivers also says that House Speaker Greg Stumbo—who sold his tickets to the game to work on the budget—is more concerned with basketball than he is with the budget.
But Stumbo dismissed the criticism.
“Well, nobody plans the game when we do the budget," says Stumbo, a Democrat. "So, the budget—the game is just sort of a sideline to the whole thing. But we’ve had that in the past, there’s been situations where we’ve, because it is March Madness, but we used to try to get everybody at least in front of a television so they can watch the game.”
Lawmakers plan work through the weekend on the budget, which could be finished as early as Monday night, or as late as Wednesday.