Senate Budget Chief “Cautiously Optimistic” About Surplus

The chairman of Kentucky’s Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee is cautiously optimistic about news of a possible budget surplus.

State Budget Director Mary Lassiter says if revenue growth continues on its current course, the state could end the fiscal year with a budget surplus of $58 million. But Senate budget chief Bob Leeper says Lassiter’s report is preliminary and contains many warnings.

“Not all that money goes into the General Fund. Being coal severance money, some of that money goes back to the counties,” he says. “So, it’s a figure that’s accurate, but it’s also something that you have to take a lot of factors in. It’s not $58 million to go out and spend.”

The state has seen two consecutive quarters of General Fund revenue growth, and three straight quarters of Road Fund growth. General Fund growth in the first quarter of the current fiscal year was 4.4 percent. The rate required to meet the budget is 4.2 percent.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.