Kentucky's state government won't have to shut down most of its operations July 1 due to the lack of a legislatively enacted budget.
But it took a totally unnecessary special session of the General Assembly that lasted a totally unnecessary extra day to spare the state the embarrassment and pain of such a shutdown.
If not for the egomania of House and Senate leaders, the same budget enacted Friday and the same road plan and Transportation Cabinet operations budget enacted Saturday could have been approved before the April 15 constitutional deadline for adjourning this year's regular legislative session.
A stare-down between Senate Republican leaders and House Democratic leaders has become a regular feature of budget sessions. Three times in the last decade, lawmakers have failed to pass a budget in a timely fashion because of those stare-downs.
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Since the three failures have involved three different governors (Paul Patton, Ernie Fletcher and Steve Beshear) and two different House speakers (Jody Richards and Greg Stumbo) but a single Senate president (David Williams), it seems obvious whose ego poses the biggest problem.
As the current debacle was ending last week, leaders of both houses were pointing fingers of blame at Beshear and vowing to start work on crafting a budget earlier in the future.
But Beshear's blame in this instance was small, and stems not from proposing a budget lawmakers didn't like but rather from seldom becoming fully engaged in the legislative process in this or any other year.
Remember, when House leaders rejected the governor's proposal out of hand, they boasted that assuming full responsibility for drafting a spending plan would be a "defining moment" for the General Assembly. Turns out that "defining moment" wasn't exactly a "shining moment."
And getting an earlier start on budgetary issues won't help a lick if the leaders of both houses continue to craft their versions of the budget behind closed doors, keep those documents secret until the last minute before forcing the members of their respective chambers to cast uninformed budget votes and then face off in their House-Senate brinkmanship games.
If House and Senate leaders want to point their fingers of blame in the right direction, they will point them at themselves.
Their egos forced the General Assembly to meet in special session (at a cost to taxpayers of $63,000 a day) to finally pass a budget that keeps state government from shutting down.
Their egos caused that session to last six days instead of the five that are the minimum necessary for passage of a piece of legislation.
Their egos blocked passage in the regular session of a no-brainer unemployment insurance reform that will save Kentucky businesses $700 million over the next 10 years. It finally won approval in last week's special session.
And in the special session as well as the regular session, their egos killed a bill that would allow Kentucky distillers to offer free promotional samplings of one of the state's signature products at events such as the Alltech FEI World Equestrian games and this summer's National Council of State Legislatures meeting in Louisville.
And their egos prompt us to offer Governor Beshear a suggestion: If he has the legal authority to do so, we would encourage him to authorize bourbon "tastings" at the equestrian games by executive order.
But leave out the NCSL, so rank-and-file members of the General Assembly get a "taste" of what their leaders' egos can cost them.