Kentucky budget

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

On Friday, lawmakers have one last opportunity to approve bills, override vetoes and — most importantly — pass a state budget before the legislative session gavels out midnight Friday night.

Gov. Matt Bevin has signed more than 100 bills into law, vetoed six and line-item vetoed parts of a seventh. If the governor vetoes a bill, lawmakers can override the decision with a majority vote in each chamber.

On Friday, lawmakers will have the opportunity to override vetoes Bevin has made so far, but once the legislature adjourns, they won’t be able to override.

Both chambers gavel in at noon on Friday. The General Assembly will end at the stroke of midnight.

Bills In Striking Distance:

Needle Exchange Regulations: Would require the department for public health to establish guidelines for disposing needles. The bill unanimously passed the House, but the Senate amended it to require exchanges to only hand out as many needles as they take in. The House is now considering the changes.

LRC Public Information

State lawmakers have come to an agreement on a budget that makes nearly across-the-board spending cuts, enacts performance funding for higher education and puts more money into the ailing state pension systems.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo called it “an adequate and effective blend” of the House, Senate and Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget priorities.

Senate President Robert Stivers said the bill was ready for a vote.

“I believe we have an agreement on all issues related to the budget,” Stivers said.

The final document is expected to be approved by both legislative chambers on Friday, the last day of the General Assembly.

J. Tyler Franklin

Budget negotiations are scheduled to resume in Frankfort this afternoon. Lawmakers have only hours to hammer out a final compromise in time for the end of the legislative session.

Legislators have to come to an agreement by early Thursday morning to get a budget document prepared for a vote in both legislative chambers sometime on Friday, when the General Assembly officially ends.

Budget talks are expected to go into the early morning.

The stakes of meeting the deadline are high: Yesterday, Gov. Matt Bevin announced he would not call a special legislative session to give lawmakers more time to negotiate.

If lawmakers don’t reach an agreement by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the state will be thrown into a partial government shutdown, with only necessary government services staying open.

LRC Public Information

If lawmakers fail to pass a state budget by the end of the legislative session on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin says he won’t call a special legislative session to give them more time.

If a two-year budget doesn’t pass by June 30, the state will be thrown into a partial government shutdown. Nonetheless, Bevin is adamant that he won’t give lawmakers more time.

“I will not reward the inability to do the job that people were sent here for by paying them extra money,” Bevin said. “The job can get done. I believe the job will get done because the job should get done.”

The Legislative Research Commission estimates that it costs about $63,000 each day the legislature meets.

Only the governor can call a special session.

Lawmakers have been deadlocked over the budget for weeks and have now run into a hard deadline: The constitution won’t allow the legislative session to go past April 15.

Kentucky Lawmakers Extend Deadline, Reviving Budget Talks

Apr 11, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers have agreed to extend the deadline for approving a two-year operating budget of more than $65 billion for state and federal services.

Budget talks broke down late Sunday night. The legislature was scheduled to convene for the final time this year on Tuesday. The schedule would not give lawmakers enough time to vote on an operating budget.

Monday, House and Senate leaders agreed to move the legislature's final day to Friday. That is the last day they could meet according to state law.

Budget negotiations are scheduled to formally resume at 1 p.m. Tuesday. If lawmakers do not pass a budget by Friday, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin would have to call them back for an expensive special session in order to avoid a partial shutdown of government services.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear announced on Monday he had filed suit against Republican Gov. Matt Bevin over the governor’s recent order imposing an immediate 4.5 percent funding cut to state colleges and universities.

The cut amounts to some $41 million in spending reductions from what the General Assembly had agreed to in a previous budget.

Beshear called Bevin’s March 31 order “unconstitutional and illegal.”

The Bevin administration has said state law supports his order to make the cuts unilaterally.

Alix Mattingly

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is encouraging state lawmakers to pass a budget before the legislature adjourns for the year.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the Republican governor still hopes lawmakers can pass a budget without an expensive special session.

House and Senate lawmakers ended budget negotiations late Sunday night after declaring an impasse. The legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday for the final time this year. Lawmakers could move their final day to as late as Friday to give them more time to reach a deal. But Senate Republican leaders said they would not support that move.

If lawmakers fail to pass a budget, Bevin would have to call legislators back for an expensive special session. Otherwise, portions of state government would shut down on July 1.

LRC Public Information

After hours of negotiations on Sunday, state lawmakers once again failed to agree on a budget, halting their meeting abruptly at about 11:30 p.m.

The failure raises doubts about whether the House and Senate can agree on a budget by the end of this year’s General Assembly on Tuesday. Lawmakers will likely have to adjust the legislative calendar to approve a budget bill before the legislature is scheduled to disband for the year.

“It appears to be at a complete stalemate,” said Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones, a Democrat from Pikeville.

Lawmakers had planned to come to an agreement on Sunday to have a budget bill ready for votes in the House and Senate on Tuesday. While it appears the budget conference committee will not have an agreement in time, lawmakers had no plans to alter the official calendar.

LRC Public Information

House Democrats say they would agree to spend less on state colleges and universities if it means lawmakers could reach an agreement on a two-year plan to spend more than $65 billion in public money.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said House leaders offered a compromise on Wednesday that would reduce spending on higher education by 2 percent in the budget year that begins July 1. Spending levels would remain the same for the following budget year.

Senate Republicans have insisted on cuts to higher education in order to pay more money toward the state's public pension debt. House Democrats had refused to make any cuts to public education. Stumbo said the proposal retains his party's commitment to education while moving the budget process forward.

Senate Republicans have not responded to the proposal.

LRC Public Information

Talks have resumed behind closed doors as lawmakers try to come to an agreement on a state budget in time for a vote on the last day of the legislative session, scheduled for April 12.

The House and Senate are entrenched over how much money to contribute and save for the state pension systems and whether to cut K-12 programs and higher education institutions.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said “chances are still good” that a budget will pass in time.

“The information is being exchanged, ideas are being discussed, and there have been some very good conversations today,” he said.

To get a compromise budget ready for votes in the House and Senate on Tuesday, lawmakers would have to come to an agreement by Sunday night, Stivers said.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers are deadlocked on a state budget, with no resolution in sight.

If a compromise isn’t reached by April 15, Gov. Matt Bevin will likely have to have to call a special legislative session — which costs taxpayers about $70,000 per day.

And if lawmakers don’t come up with a state budget by June 30, the state will be sent into a partial government shutdown. That means parts of state government would temporarily close, leaving thousands of state workers without pay.

Federally mandated programs like Medicaid and public education would continue.

Lawmakers disagree over how much to cut from K-12 and higher education funding.

Republicans want to put the savings into current and future payments into the state pension systems. Democrats want to shield education from cuts.

Legislative leaders say they’ll negotiate this week, but no official meetings have been scheduled.

Rhonda Miller, WKU Public Radio

A day after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin issued an order cutting the state’s current contribution to higher education by 4.5 percent, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear said that move is illegal.

In a news conference late Friday afternoon, Beshear — the state’s top law enforcement official — told Bevin to rescind his order, which made the cuts to state colleges and universities. He said if the governor did not do so within seven days, his office would file suit.

“That is the exact type of power our democracy, our constitution, our liberty explicitly forbids,” Beshear said.

In a letter reducing the appropriation to higher education, Bevin cited a state law he said gives him the authority to make the cuts. The law forbids “allotments in excess of the amount appropriated to that budget unit in a branch budget bill” but says nothing about reduced appropriations.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell has issued a statement Friday morning in response to Gov. Matt Bevin's order that state universities immediately incur a 4.5 percent funding cut.

Bevin has told his Finance and Administration Secretary and Budget Director to make the cuts to the quarterly transfers of funds scheduled to take place Friday to the state's eight public universities and Community and Technical College System.

Here is Ransdell's statement:

"We are aware of the Governor's decision to proceed with cutting 4.5 percent from university budgets by withholding it from the fourth quarterly allotments that are scheduled for today. Our budget is complex and nearly two-thirds personnel. We will likely have to tap some of our reserve funds to manage a $3.5 million reduction at this late date in the fiscal year, but we will make those decisions in the next few days.”

University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey also issued a statement Friday morning.

WKU

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered immediate 4.5 percent cuts in state funding to all public colleges and universities.

The order comes as state lawmakers are locked in a stalemate over a two-year state spending plan. House and Senate leaders broke off negotiations on Thursday because Senate Republicans insisted on budget cuts for higher education while Democrats refused.

Bevin first proposed his mid-year budget cuts in January as part of a plan to cut state spending by $650 million and use the savings to begin to pay down the state’s public pension debt.

The House and the Senate did not include Bevin’s 4.5 percent mid-year cuts in their budget proposals. But Bevin, citing a state law that allows him to reduce allotments for executive branch agencies, cut their budgets anyway.

UPDATE: Budget Talks Have Broken Down In Frankfort

Mar 31, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Legislative leaders in Frankfort say budget negotiations have broken down, putting a two-year spending plan in jeopardy.

Members of the House and Senate budget conference committee said Thursday they were unable to reach a deal. They have met privately for several days trying to reach a compromise in time for the legislature to approve the deal on Friday.

House Democrats insist they will not allow budget cuts for education. Senate Republicans say the cuts are needed to help pay down the state’s more than $30 billion pension debt.

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