Governor Steve Beshear predicted his next state budget would be bleak. Now, many state agencies are being told to cut another 8.4 percent of their budgets for the next two years.
That means some agencies will have taken cuts of up to 38 percent during Beshear’s term as governor. The hardest hit are the Labor and Finance cabinets. Universities are cut 6.4 percent, but the KEES program that funds scholarships is fully funded. State police are cut 2.2 percent.
But the budget is not all bad. The governor proposes almost $8 million in funding for a substance abuse program in Medicaid for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. The budget also includes $1 million for colon cancer screenings for the uninsured. That will be matched by $1 million in private donations.
The budget expands preschool to those at 160 percent of the poverty line, adding nearly 4,500 four-year-olds to the educational program that the governor says shows high returns on its investment.
The SEEK formula, the measure by which elementary schools receive funding, is also uncut. But it also won’t receive any extra funding, which could be interpreted as cut, the governor says.
And the budget also funds an adult abuse registry. A bill creating the registry has been popular in the General Assembly but fails every year due to a lack of funding.
Many other popular proposals are receiving funding. Most notably are:
- $3.5 million in state funding for phase 1 of the Rupp Arena renovation, to be matched with $1.5 million in Lexington city funds
- Leaving a large uncommitted chunk of coal severance tax revenue to potential bring University of Pikeville into state university system
- $5 million to fund Business One Stop in the Secretary of State’s office.
- $50 million a year for six years to fund Kentucky’s portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville.
- Up to $20 million a year to help with the Brent Spence Bridge in Northern Kentucky
- Money for expanded Interstate 69 in Western Kentucky and for building new bridges on U.S. 68/KY 80 in the Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley area.
- Money to expand Interstate 65 between Elizabethtown and Bowling Green
- Completion of Newtown Pike Extension in Lexington
- $80 million for the Mountain Parkway
The ability to fund so many pressing road projects shows the difference in the healthy road fund and the needy General Fund, Beshear said. Many projects in the General Fund are being funded by excess road fund money, he said.
The budget also uses $102 million from the Rainy Day fund, leaving $20 million left over for emergencies.