Kentucky budget

Rhonda J. Miller

The president of Western Kentucky University unveiled phase two of the school’s budget cuts on Thursday. WKU President Timothy Caboni says this second round of cuts will result in $14 million in savings. The two rounds of budget cuts amount to $27 million.

The second round of cuts includes 10 filled staff positions and the elimination of 20 vacant positions. Of those 20, 12 are faculty and eight are staff.  The specific positions will be announced in about week, after employees are notified.

Ryland Barton

This year’s Kentucky General Assembly was book-ended by turmoil, but over the course of nearly four months the Republican-led legislature was still able to wrangle the votes to approve politically volatile policies like changing pension benefits for public workers and overhauling Kentucky’s tax code amid intense protests from public workers, especially teachers.

The legislature also passed a variety of conservative measures like new abortion restrictions, an expansion of the state’s gang penalties and an overhaul of Kentucky’s workers compensation system.

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The opening of charter schools in Kentucky could be delayed if a two-year budget passed this week by the General Assembly is signed by Governor Bevin.

The spending plan contains no funding for charters, which operate with greater independence than traditional schools and with a different level of accountability. 

Lawmakers approved the creation of charter schools in last year’s legislative session.  The state then began accepting applications with a goal of having some of the alternative public schools operating by this fall.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature has passed a new two-year state budget that cuts much of state government in order to put more money into the state’s ailing pension systems.

But lawmakers also approved about $680 million in new revenue by expanding the sales tax to 17 services ranging from auto repair to country club memberships and raising the tax on cigarettes.

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Update: The Kentucky Senate has approved a $480 million tax increase by voting to expand the state sales tax to a variety of services.

The Senate voted 20-18 to send the bill to the House of Representatives, which also plans to vote on the measure Monday.

Senate Democrats objected because they said they were shut out of the process and did not have time to read the bill. Republicans said the bill had to pass Monday to preserve their right to overturn any vetoes from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

LRC Public Information

As this year’s legislative session winds down, Kentucky lawmakers still have to make hard decisions on how the state will spend and make money over the next two years.

Republicans are solely in charge of writing the $22 billion two-year budget for the first time in state history, but leaders of the state House and Senate still disagree on the thorniest spending issues.

Many of the disagreements center on whether the state should try to generate new revenue in order to put more money into public education.

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Kentucky is ranked the second most federally dependent state in the nation.

A recent study by WalletHub looked at two key factors: state government dependency and resident dependency. Kentucky’s government is ranked fourth in dependency on federal money, but is only ranked 23rd in the share of federal jobs. Analyst Jill Gonzalez said there are some drawbacks to being so dependent on federal money.

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State legislative leaders said they’ve made progress after the first day in Kentucky history that Republicans were in control of budget negotiations. But major differences between the state House and Senate versions of the two-year spending plan remain.

The Senate opposes the House’s proposal to raise about $500 million in revenue by increasing the cigarette tax and creating a tax on opioid pain pills.

Meanwhile the House put about a $1 billion more in the teachers’ pension system than the Senate did.

Opioid Tax Won’t Pass Kentucky Senate, Leader Says

Mar 19, 2018
LRC Public Information

The Kentucky Senate will reject a proposed first-in-the-nation tax on prescription opioids, with the chamber’s top Republican leader saying the idea has too many legal problems for it to be in the foundation of a two-year state spending plan.

The state’s House of Representatives approved the 25-cent per dose tax earlier this month, saying it would bring in about $140 million over the next two years. Lawmakers planned to use that money, plus revenue from an accompanying 50-cent hike in the cigarette tax, to pay for public education among other state services.

LRC Public Information

The leader of the state Senate is making no promises on whether proposals to increase the cigarette tax and create a tax on pain pills will be considered in his chamber.

On Thursday, the Republican-led state House of Representatives passed a revenue bill that would increase the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack and create a 25-cent tax that distributors would have to pay for each dose of opioid pills sold in Kentucky.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said he wants to have more analysis on the issue before weighing in.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Republican-led Kentucky House of Representatives is set to consider a budget bill that exempts some of state government from spending cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee advanced a budget bill that gets rid of Bevin’s proposed 6.25 percent cuts to K-12 programs, higher education institutions and Kentucky State Police.

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Republican leaders of the state legislature say a new proposal to overhaul the state’s public retirement systems will be unveiled later this week.

Kentucky’s pension systems are among the worst-funded in the nation and Gov. Matt Bevin, along with many in the Republican-led legislature, wants to change how much state workers earn in benefits in order to reduce the state’s pension liability in the future.

Kentucky Official: State Prisons To Run Out Of Space By 2019

Jan 30, 2018
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Kentucky’s top public safety official says the state’s prisons will run out of space by May 2019, possibly forcing the early release of thousands of nonviolent inmates as the state continues to grapple with the effects of a nationwide opioid epidemic.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley told state lawmakers Tuesday the state’s prison population is expected to grow by more than 4,400 inmates over the next decade. His comments come as lawmakers are deciding how to spend taxpayer money over the next two years.

Simpson County Schools Facebook

Educators from across Kentucky will be at the state Capitol this week encouraging legislators to restore funding that’s been eliminated in the governor’s proposed budget. Gov. Matt Bevin has proposed eliminating funding for 70 state programs. More than 40 of those programs are related to education.

Wednesday is Education Advocacy Day at the Capitol, an annual event sponsored by the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Jim Flynn is superintendent of Simpson County Schools and chair of the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative that represents 43 districts.

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A coalition of economic, education, health and advocacy groups is criticizing Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts — and instead, is pushing for “revenue raising tax reform.”

Bevin unveiled a two-year plan earlier this week that would cut most state spending by 6.25 percent and eliminate 70 programs mostly involving education, outreach and arts initiatives.

In a news release, Kentucky Together said budget cuts are not a practical solution to the state’s money issues.

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