February 11, 2016

23° Fair

Henry says cuts personal

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2003

Lt. Gov. Steve Henry maintains the legislative action to cut his mansion staff was personal and partisan and he hopes to merge what’s left of that staff with the one in his Capitol office.

Gov. Paul Patton’s signature on the legislature’s budget – leaving intact the elimination of the mansion staff for the lieutenant governor, dumping a chef and cutting extra security – could mark one of the final disagreements the governor will have with his number two man in what has been a rocky relationship.

“I think the lieutenant governors should provide for their own domestic needs,” Patton said. “If an event were held there we would arrange to have it catered. That’s reasonable.”

In tight budget times, the one constitutional office lacking few clearly defined duties was an easy target, and some legislators argued whether the office even served a purpose. So the elimination was part of the overall budget that passed the Senate by a vote of 87-7 in the House and 36-1 in the Senate.

A majority of states don’t provide their lieutenant governors with a home, while actual duties vary among the 42 states that have the office. Meanwhile, it’s uncertain what the historic Old Governor’s Mansion would be used for if not to house the lieutenant governor in the future.

Henry maintains the move was purely political, and part of a long-running smear against him. He said it was a way for the Republican-controlled Senate to divert attention away from its failure to enact meaningful legislation this year.

“The question about perks was nothing more than camouflage for the state Senate,” Henry said in an interview with The State Journal. “It’s truly hypocritical, but it’s a disservice. It’s not like people that work on the staff just work on the mansion. They perform multiple tasks.”

Though Henry doesn’t live in the home, he said having overnight accommodations when he is in Frankfort for official business is more cost-effective than having the state provide reimbursements, as is done with the legislature.

Patton said the housing situation could change next year with a new governor.

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.