Special election Tuesday could change House majority for first time in almost 100 years

Kentucky’s special election on Tuesday could determine whether we see cuts to areas like our universities or public health agencies.       

Four seats are up for grabs in the state House, including District 8 of Trigg and Christian counties. State Rep. John Tilley vacated that spot to accept an appointment in Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration.

Jeffrey Taylor is running for the Democratic Party in District 8. He’s a retired economic development recruiter for the Tennessee Valley Authority. For the Republicans, Walker Wood Thomas is running. He’s the owner of Hopkinsville’s Roller Dome Fun Plex.

The Democrats have controlled the House for about 95 years. Right now, Democrats have a 50 to 46 advantage in the House.

State Rep. Gerald Watkins, the Democratic representative for District 3, says if all four seats go to Republicans, it would make passing bills on either side difficult.

“People across Kentucky need to realize how important this election is. Power in the house hangs in the balance, and that’s important because the difference in philosophy in a number of issues,” Watkins said.

Without a tie breaker it will be up to either party to try to secure a majority vote. A bill needs 51 votes to pass.

Watkins says he hopes Democrats keep the majority, because he says higher education is under attack in Bevin’s proposed budget.

“If we pass the governor’s budget, which we know the Republicans would do, I believe then we are going to deprive a lot of young people out of the college market,” Watkins said.

Bevin’s proposed budget would cut most state agencies like universities or parks by 4.5 percent through June, then by 9 percent over each of the next two fiscal years.

Several agencies are exempt, like local public school funding and Medicaid.

Republican Party District 1 Chairman Richard Grana says cuts have to be made to help with the state’s multi-billion dollar public pension debt.

“We need to fund those. We made a promise everybody is committed to, with a few options to do that. We don’t want to raise taxes, so we need to cut,” Grana said.

Bevin’s proposed budget assumes no tax increases and no tax cuts over next two years.

Grana thinks the four different house districts are very focused in their efforts to get people to vote Tuesday. He expects a good turnout.

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