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Frankfort Local News

Senate Committee Restores Vetoed Projects In Road Funding Bill

A Kentucky Senate committee’s amendment to the state transportation budget could take the special session off course.

Lawmakers are in special session in part to pass a funding mechanism for the state road plan. But Senate President David Williams declined to take up the issue until Governor Steve Beshear acted on the unfunded road plan that passed previously. Beshear did so this week, issuing line item vetoes that make projects in Williams’s district a lower priority for the state.

Today, senate budget chairman Bob Leeper introduced an amendment that would in effect reverse the vetoes. But Leeper says he’ll drop the amendment it if the House doesn’t agree to it. And his chamber won’t stay in session to override any more vetoes.

“There’s no need for that. The governor has the authority to do it and he’s done it before. I see no reason for us to stay in for this amendment,” Leeper says.

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Frankfort Local News

Lawmakers Officially Approve Budget Bills

Kentucky lawmakers have officially passed two-year budgets for all three branches of state government.

After hatching a deal early Thursday morning, lawmakers finally received the compromise in bill form this afternoon.

The Senate passed the executive branch budget 36 to 1 and passed a judicial budget compromise unanimously. The House also overwhelmingly approved the budgets.

Senate budget chairman Bob Leeper says part of the agreed-upon deal would cut the state’s structural imbalance by half. This represents funds that don’t have a recurring funding source.

“I believe we’re to be congratulated for cutting the overall structural imbalance by over half in the next biennium. I believe that’s a very important point of our budget effort,” he says

The executive and judicial budget bills now join the legislative branch budget waiting for Governor Steve Beshear’s signature. So does House Bill 449, the revenue and tax amnesty bills.

The governor can choose to veto certain line items before sending the bills back to the legislature. Lawmakers will meet again April 12 to override any potential vetoes.

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Frankfort Local News Politics

Senate Passes Budget Bills, Must Compromise With House

After hours of closed-door meetings, the Kentucky Senate approved budgets for the three branches of state government Thursday night.

The House previously approved its own versions of the budgets. The Senate kept the House’s legislative plan intact but modified the executive and judicial budgets. The two chambers must now form a conference committee to work out the differences.

In the executive budget, the Senate voted to limit some spending favored by the House and Governor Steve Beshear. For instance, the chamber cut $7.5 million Beshear proposed to expand preschool services.

“We just obviously didn’t spend it,” says Budget Committee chairman Bob Leeper. “This is not the time to be spending money when other areas are taking major cuts. There are people all across Kentucky that have been affected by the structure of this budget. With those people being affected we didn’t feel comfortable expanding that program at this time,“ Leeper says.

Most of the Senate’s cuts focused on debt-incurring projects. The chamber reduced potential debt by more than $161 million from the House plan and by more than $577 million dollars from the governor’s plan. The Senate also reduced the state’s structural budget imbalance and kept the rainy day fund intact.

“You know there were significant changes throughout the budget,” says Senate President David Williams. “The level of debt is a matter of concern to all Kentuckians and it should be a matter of concern. I think that the House showed its concern with the level of debt and we show our concern with the level of debt.”

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Frankfort Local News

Senate Likely Two Weeks Away From a Budget Vote

The legislative session is winding down, but budget negotiations are just beginning for Kentucky’s Senate.

The House passed their version of budgets for all three branches of state government last week. But Senate Budget Chairman Bob Leeper says that doesn’t mean the Senate will be able to act quickly on the plan.

Leeper says the Senate will compare three separate budgets: Governor Steve Beshear’s original proposal, the House’s changed plan and the last two-year budget. That means it could be some time before the Senate passes the budget.

“I think we’re probably at least two weeks away from that. It’s going to be difficult to do in that sort of period of turnaround time. It’s a very deliberate process we’re going through the first time line item by line item,” Leeper says.

Leeper says it’s too soon to say what changes the Senate may make. But there will be some, and Leeper says he hopes the Senate’s budget changes will play well in an eventual conference committee with the House.