Senate Republicans still want across-the-board cuts to state agencies, including education, to balance Medicaid. But most of the education cuts wouldn’t come until January 31, 2012. And if Governor Beshear attains 82 percent of his projected savings from Medicaid managed care before then, the legislature could rescind the cuts.
After the Senate passes the bill, House and Senate leaders likely will need to sit down to negotiate a final agreement. Since lawmakers are paid for weekends during special sessions, this is day 11 of the session.
The bill still allows Governor Steve Beshear to shift Medicaid funds forward, but if projected savings from managed care fail to materialize, targeted cuts to state agencies would have to be made by October 1st. Education, vocational rehabilitation and veterans affairs would be exempt from any cuts.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the leaders showed the governor their bipartisan plan for balancing the Medicaid budget.
House Minority Leader Jeffrey Hoover says he and Speaker Greg Stumbo are close to agreement on a compromise bill they hope will pass both the House and Senate.
Governor Steve Beshear says if lawmakers can’t reach agreement on how to close a huge deficit in this year’s Medicaid budget, he will have to cut reimbursement rates to Medicaid providers by 35% on April 1st. Steve Shannon of the Kentucky Association of Regional Mental Health Centers says if that happens, layoffs and furloughs will ensue. And right now, the centers are serving 172,000 Kentuckians with mental disabilities.
n the meantime, House Democratic and Republican leaders are meeting behind closed doors trying to craft a bill they hope will be satisfactory to Senate Republicans. None of the proposals being tossed around include cuts to education.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says behind the scenes talks with House Minority Leader Jeffrey Hoover are going well, but he’s not yet ready to reveal what’s being discussed.
It’s the first bill to get a committee vote during a special session in Frankfort that’s primarily focused on balancing the state’s Medicaid budget. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says the drop out bill would send a message to educators that the state’s serious about keeping kids in school.
Stumbo says the House Appropriations and Revenue committee wants to hear how budget cuts recommended by Senate Republicans will affect state agencies. “And that’s why we likely will not get through this week,” he says. “There’s been no testimony at all about what impact that will have on other agencies that have already been severely reduced over a billion dollars in spending to our state government’s functions.”