As I said when Andy Beshear won Kentucky's governor's race earlier this year, expect the state's GOP legislature to immediately start transferring as much power away from the office as possible. It's already beginning and Beshear hasn't even taken office yet.
State Senate leaders are backing a bill that would limit the governor’s power to name a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet secretary, essentially shifting that role to a citizen board nominated by influential business and government groups.
The newly created board would develop the first draft of the state’s two-year road budget and base it on an “objective scoring system.” The governor’s administration now creates the plan sent to legislators.
Among other duties, the nine-member Kentucky Transportation Board would compile a list of candidates for Transportation Secretary, then send the names to the governor. He or she would choose from that list.
The bill also would make the Transportation Secretary subject to Senate confirmation – the only cabinet leader in a governor’s administration with that requirement.
The measure is sponsored by three Republicans in the GOP-controlled legislature – Sen. Jimmy Higdon; vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee; committee chair Sen. Ernie Harris; and Senate President Robert Stivers. It was prefiled on Nov. 5, the day Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
Higdon said the timing was coincidental. “It’s not directed at (anyone),” he said. “We had no idea who the governor would be when that was filed.”
Instead, he said the proposal is an effort to insulate the state's transportation spending process from the politics that for years have held sway over road projects. It's modelled after a similar approach in Virginia, where an independent board oversees transportation projects, he added.
A governor still would have some influence over the Kentucky board’s makeup. But first, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce would nominate one person from each of the state’s six Congressional districts as potential members, as well as three at-large candidates.
The governor then would appoint the nine members from the list of candidates, with no more than five board members of the same political party. Louisville’s Congressional district would have one member; the bill would also require that one of the at-large members represent an area with more than 50,000 people.
The Senate would ultimately confirm the board members.
So the bill is going to be a "good governance" approach to the state's transportation, road, and bridge issues, but mysteriously it's the Republican-dominated State Senate who would get final say over the members of the state Transportation Cabinet board, the Transportation Cabinet secretary, transportation budget planning, and of course be able to pass and then override the governor's veto on any road budget items.
Literally the only thing the governor would get to do is pick the board, and the governor's hands would be tied by a 5-4 party alignment. In other words, Beshear would have virtually no input over how the state spends billions in transportation funds.
I'm sure this bill would have been summarily killed in committee if Bevin had won the election, but since he didn't, suddenly this bill is very, very popular.
Expect other aspects of the governor's power to be stripped over the next few months.
The Battle for Bevinstan is far from over with these turkeys.
And speaking of Andy Beshear, he and Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards took to the Washington Post with an op-ed making the case on how Democrats can beat Trump in red states.
The secret sauce is not really a secret. To win, we had to reach out to people across the political spectrum, including people who voted for President Trump. So we campaigned everywhere, treating every voter with respect, as winnable, because showing up still matters to the people we wanted to lead.
For one of us (Edwards), it meant visiting the 53 parishes that voted for Trump. For the other (Beshear), it meant many trips to Kentucky counties that hadn’t voted for a Democrat in a decade or more. We met the voters where they are, running on greater access to health care, education and good-paying jobs. Only by talking about the issues voters care about can you earn back their trust.
Here’s why: Voters are worried about whether getting sick means they will go bankrupt. Or whether a daughter in 2nd grade will get the education she needs and deserves. They care more about having a champion who fights for good-paying, stable jobs in the local economy than who fights about whatever is generating the latest debate on Twitter.
Our opponents attempted to nationalize our races, making them about the politics of Washington. The president came to each of our states to campaign for our opponents. This was not likely to change the outcome because the people we met on the campaign trail do not believe the politics of Washington are working for them. And they certainly don’t want their governor to follow in the footsteps of what they see coming out of the nation’s capital.
Instead, people are looking for leaders who will bring us together to make progress for their families. Neither of us could afford to speak only to loyal Democrats or people who agree with us on every issue. Engaging with people who are frustrated with the system is critical not only to winning an election but also to advancing an agenda.
Governing requires that we work with everyone, regardless of party, who comes to the table in good faith. We must all go forward together.
Families in both Kentucky and Louisiana worried that their health-care coverage and our states’ Medicaid expansions were going to be ripped away by a Republican governor. They were similarly worried about their local schools keeping the doors open and retaining quality teachers. They want policies to provide solutions to the challenges they face in their daily lives. Voters went to the polls because they felt heard and believed we would work with members of both parties to fight for them.
Medicaid expansion won in both states, guys. It wasn't rocket science. Republicans have destroyed the ACA and Medicaid expansion at every opportunity.