After hours of closed-door meetings, the Kentucky Senate approved budgets for the three branches of state government Thursday night. The House previously approved its own versions of the budgets. The Senate kept the House's legislative plan intact but modified the executive and judicial budgets. The two chambers must now form a conference committee to work out the differences.
In the executive budget, the Senate voted to limit some spending favored by the House and Governor Steve Beshear. For instance, the chamber cut $7.5 million Beshear proposed to expand preschool services.
“We just obviously didn’t spend it," says Budget Committee chairman Bob Leeper. "This is not the time to be spending money when other areas are taking major cuts. There are people all across Kentucky that have been affected by the structure of this budget. With those people being affected we didn’t feel comfortable expanding that program at this time,“ Leeper says.
Most of the Senate's cuts focused on debt-incurring projects. The chamber reduced potential debt by more than $161 million from the House plan and by more than $577 million dollars from the governor’s plan. The Senate also reduced the state’s structural budget imbalance and kept the rainy day fund intact.
“You know there were significant changes throughout the budget," says Senate President David Williams. "The level of debt is a matter of concern to all Kentuckians and it should be a matter of concern. I think that the House showed its concern with the level of debt and we show our concern with the level of debt.”