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Frankfort Local News

Stumbo Says Budget Compromise Should Be Easy

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his chamber’s priorities for the next two-year budget are not that different from the senate’s.

Both chambers have passed their own budget bills for each branch of state government. The two sides must now work out a compromise. Stumbo says he doesn’t have many concerns with the Senate’s changes and he expects a conference committee to hatch a compromise quickly.

“We may have approached it a different manner but at least we’re addressing the issues and if that’s the case we ought to be able to come to some middle ground to formulate a budget,” he says.

Senate President David Williams wanted to start the conference committee today, but Stumbo expects the committee to meet Monday and get a compromise to the chambers by Thursday.

“Staff will be working with them through the weekend, staff will be working with the governor’s office, and staff will be communicating as they review the budget. We didn’t get the Senate document until late last night, we actually haven’t gotten it officially here yet,” Stumbo says.

 

Stumbo says a budget could pass by Friday. If that happens, it will be the first time in years that lawmakers have passed a budget on time. 


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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

Plan to Cap State Spending at Six Percent of Revenue Takes the First Step

A new constitutional amendment that restricts how much debt the Commonwealth can carry took it’s first steps in Frankfort today.

The amendment is sponsored by state Sen. Joe Bowen, a Republican from Owensboro. It caps state spending to six percent of annual revenue.Currently, the state has spent 6.3 percent more than it has taken in. The measure passed the Senate State and Local Government committee today.

“This is a bold move, I can assure you the public will embrace,” Bowen says. “And having said that ultimately the public will decide whether this is a good measure or not. Because it’s going to be on the ballot. You know, we’re not making this decision, the public is. So I would certainly defer to them because I have heard a lot of support for this.”

Bowen’s bill has a companion in the House, but the House bill caps spending at five percent of revenue. The bill is a favorite of Tea Party groups across the Commonwealth.

It excludes the road fund, the infrastructure authority and universities from the equation, because they rely almost exclusively on bonded debt.

As to why to cap spending at six percent, instead of a higher or lower number, co-sponsor Sen. Damon Thayer says six percent is generally where credit rating agencies like the state to stay under.

“On the six percent, the bond rating agencies use that number in the figure that they would like us not go over,” Thayer says. “We being the General Assembly generally have tried to stay around that number. This of course would set that in the Constitution.”

The bill must pass the Senate and House before landing on this fall’s ballot.

 

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Local News Politics

Live Coverage of the President’s Press Conference Today at 11:00

President Barack Obama will hold a press conference today at 11:00. Mr. Obama is expected to talk about the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. WFPL will carry live coverage of the event.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth Responds to Robo-Calls Attacking Debt Ceiling Vote

Responding to criticisms over the recent debt ceiling vote, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth says Congressional Republicans are playing games with the country’s credit and jeopardizing economic recovery.

Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee launched robo-calls attacking several Democrats, including Yarmuth, for supporting an increase of the federal government’s debt ceiling without attaching spending cuts.

The call says Democrats support reckless spending and maxing out the nation’s credit card, but Yarmuth slammed GOP lawmakers over a vote that many have called a political stunt.

“The Republican Leadership is playing politics with the full faith and credit of the United States of America. This is a reckless game that jeopardizes American jobs and America’s economic recovery, which is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers support my clean debt ceiling vote,” says Yarmuth. “The absurdity of the Republican position on this issue is magnified by that fact that their own budget would require an $8.8 trillion increase in the debt ceiling over the next 10 years.”

The phone messages were coupled with television advertisements aimed at Democratic members of Congress by the NRCC as a result of the vote. However, political fact-check groups have criticized the robo-calls because they attack Democrats who voted for and against the measure.

The GOP decries raising the debt ceiling by highlighting the country’s growing $14 trillion dollar debt.

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Local News Politics

Freshman Young Looks For Ways To Cut Spending

Among the many freshmen Republicans to be sworn in to Congress Wednesday will be Indiana’s Todd Young, who defeated Baron Hill last year to win the 9th District seat. Young has spent the weeks since the election looking for ways to fulfill his campaign goals.

Like many newly elected Republicans, Young wants to cut government spending and the deficit. One of the first such issues Young will have a chance to vote on is whether to raise the nation’s debt-ceiling. A higher ceiling would allow the country to carry more debt. Spokesperson Trevor Foughty says Young hasn’t yet decided how he will vote on the issue.

“He’s very concerned about where spending is going and we understand that raising that debt ceiling might encourage. On the other hand, there are arguments to be made that it may not be best for the economy if we don’t at this point,” he says.

Young will serve on the Budget and Armed Services committees. Foughty says he’s not sure if Young will consider cutting the military budget.

“I know that nothing is off the table right now and we’ll look at everything, but there is a lot in non-military discretionary spending to tackle and I think that’s probably going to be the focus, early on at least, on a lot of that,” says Foughty.

Foughty also says Young may be open to restructuring entitlement programs such as Social Security.

“That’s something else that we definitely want to look at. Depending on what you look at, some of this stuff isn’t sustainable forever,” says Foughty. It’s important to make sure we follow through the promises we already made to people as far as the benefits we’re paying out, but long-term it’s something we need to look at reforming.”