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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.

Grant Short

An Owensboro man who hopes to replace Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator says lawmakers need to do more to strengthen working-class families. 

Grant Short is seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Republican incumbent Rand Paul. 

In Bowling Green on Wednesday, Short talked about his Family Values Plan that calls for child care subsidies, federal sick days, and universal Pre-K, among other things.  Short added that he has a plan to pay for it all.

"I've high-balled this at $1.8 billion to implement over ten years," Short told WKU Public Radio.  "The way you pay for it is by subsidizing human beings the same way as subsidized global oil companies.  We subsidize them on a rate of a trillion dollars, so I think we can find one-tenth of that to subsidize the American family who is struggling."

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

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.

Creative Commons

Gov. Matt Bevin has signed a bill that will allow some Class D felonies to be cleared from criminal records five years after a sentence is completed.

The felony expungement bill failed in the legislature for more than a decade largely because of Republican opposition from the Senate. But Bevin, a Republican, said he would support the bill on the campaign trail last year and has now followed through on the promise, signing it into law on Tuesday.

“It is critical that there is an opportunity for redemption, that there is an opportunity for second chances, because America is a land that was founded on these principles,” Bevin said.

The new policy would apply to 61 Class D felonies, which constitute about 70 percent of Class D felonies committed. Some of the most frequently committed offenses are failure to pay child support, possession of a controlled substance and theft.

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.

WKU Public Radio

Tennessee’s Attorney General is warning that the state could lose federal funding if a controversial bathroom bill clears in the General Assembly. 

The bill would require Tennessee students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.  Supporters say the legislation is necessary to protect the privacy of students.  Opponents argue the bill is discriminatory. 

State Attorney General Herbert Slattery issued an opinion Monday saying the bill would violate Title IX, which means the state could lose millions of dollars in federal funding. 

The Tennessean reports that Governor Bill Haslam and the state Education Department have raised similar concerns, but the Governor has not said if he would veto the legislation should it reach his desk.  The bill has so far cleared a House committee.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

As Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration and a private consulting firm work to fix Benefind, the troubled one-stop portal for health and social services in Kentucky, the blame game over who’s responsible for its problematic rollout continues.

At a hearing of the state Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, a top Bevin administration official blamed the federal government and previous Gov. Steve Beshear for the problems plaguing the system. The online portal, which launched Feb. 29, has been marred with long wait times, lost services and erroneous notices of canceled benefits.

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told lawmakers that federal officials tested Benefind before it was released and gave the green light to launch.

“If there’s a problem, someone should take it up with the federal government. They said ‘you need to move forward,’” she testified to the committee.

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, WKU Public Radio

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.

WFPL News

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.

A bill to allow no-excuse early voting in Kentucky is dead for this year.  Legislation proposed by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes cleared the House, but never came up for a vote in the Senate. 

The legislation was aimed at boosting voter turnout in Kentucky.  Currently, voters must have a qualifying reason to vote early.  Grimes was the leading supporter of the bill.  She expressed frustration that the measure won’t be passed this year.

"I've traveled the state and people feel it's something that we should already have," Grimes stated.  "Much like online voter registration, it's something they expect."

The Kentucky County Clerk’s Association opposed the bill.  Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates said the group feels expanded early voting would be a burden for county clerks with small staffs.

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.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

A spokesman for Andy Beshear says the Democratic Attorney General will not file a lawsuit against Republican Gov. Matt Bevin before Monday.

Last week Bevin ordered midyear budget cuts of 4.5 percent at all colleges and universities. That means those institutions will have $41 million less to spend than the legislature intended.

Beshear says Bevin's action is illegal. He gave the governor seven days to rescind his order or face a lawsuit. Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian says that timeline ends at close of business Friday.

College funding is a key disagreement between House and Senate leaders in crafting a two-year state budget plan. Negotiations are continuing but Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the two sides are at an impasse.

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne announced Friday that he will not seek re-election and will retire at the end of the year.

Owensboro Living reports Payne has served in local government for 38 years.

In Owensboro, he has been City Commissioner, City Manager and Director of Finance and Administration.

Prior to working in Owensboro, he was director of finance for the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Payne is a certified public accountant. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran and served in Vietnam.

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