Politics

Gov. Matt Bevin proposed cutting most state spending by 6.25 percent over the next two years and eliminating 70 programs across state government during his budget address Tuesday evening.

The new proposal comes after Bevin signed a two-year budget that cut most state spending by nine percent in 2016.

Bevin said the reductions would allow the state to set aside more money than it ever has for the ailing pension systems — about $3.3 billion, or 15 percent of state spending.

“It is a realistic budget, it is one that is not wishful thinking,” Bevin said. “It’s one that we must pass and it will set us on course to get our house in order so that the future will be bright.”

Kentucky’s pension systems are among the worst-funded in the nation and have an unfunded liability of about $40 million.

Bevin’s proposal is only a suggestion. Now, each chamber of the legislature will come up with its own versions of the budget before all parties negotiate a final compromise.

This is the first time in state history that Republicans will have control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office during a budget-writing session.

Education Protected, Other Programs Eliminated

The list of 70 programs that would lose funding ranges from a climate monitoring station at Western Kentucky University to an allowance for local jailers.

Funding for the Kentucky Commission on Women, the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, the Kentucky Folk Arts Center in Morehead and University Press at the University of Kentucky would all be eliminated.

Funding for several scholarships, training, college counseling and mentorship programs would be eliminated. As would funding for the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services, which provides grants to local school districts.

The main source of K-12 public education funding — Support Education Excellence in Kentucky, or SEEK — would be immune from the cuts, but Bevin said local school districts would be called on “to utilize some of their reserve funds for transportation and other needs.”

Bevin promised to devote “tens of millions of dollars” to supplement overworked social workers at Kentucky’s Department for Community Based Services and $34 million to address the state’s opioid epidemic.

Jim Carroll, president of Kentucky Government Retirees advocacy group said Bevin should consider raising new tax revenue instead of cutting programs.

“Gov. Bevin’s budget request proposes a false binary choice — either adequately fund pensions or meet the state’s other critical needs,” Carroll said.

“The logical step forward is a third choice — adopt comprehensive tax reform that yields desperately needed revenue. The General Assembly must begin now to replace our outdated and inadequate tax structure, for the benefit of all taxpayers, including KRS stakeholders.”

Bevin said savings have to be taken “from somewhere.”

“They’re scattered throughout state government. We’ve been thoughtful about it, not indiscriminate,” Bevin said.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said he hadn’t seen which programs Bevin had proposed to be cut.

“We just kind of know the parameters.” Stivers said. “They’ve told us the parameters that we think, either we were not getting our bang for the buck for these programs, people didn’t know why they were instituted some 20 and 30 years ago or they do not have significance.”

Here is the list of 70 programs Bevin’s budget proposed zeroing out.

  1. County Fair Grants within the Department of Agriculture
  2. Farmer’s Market Senior Program within the Department of Agriculture
  3. ARC of Kentucky
  4. Kentucky Lung Cancer Education Awareness Detection Survivorship Collaborative
  5. Norton Kosair Children’s Hospital Poison Control Center
  6. Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program
  7. Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program
  8. Madison County Early Intervention Services
  9. Lung Cancer Research within the Council on Postsecondary Education
  10. Washington D.C. Internships within the Council on Postsecondary Education
  11. Professional Education Preparation within the Council on Postsecondary Education
  12. Minority Student College Preparation within the Council on Postsecondary Education
  13. Autism Training Center within the Council on Postsecondary Education
  14. Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars within the Council on Postsecondary Education
  15. Community Operations Board at Eastern Kentucky University
  16. Adult Agriculture at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System
  17. Kentucky Coal Academy at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System
  18. Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University
  19. Kentucky Center for Mathematics at Northern Kentucky University
  20. University Press at the University of Kentucky
  21. Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky
  22. Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Kentucky
  23. Hospital Direct Support at the University of Kentucky
  24. Agriculture Public Service at the University of Kentucky
  25. Kentucky Mesonet at Western Kentucky University
  26. Trover Clinic
  27. Mining Engineering Scholarships at the University of Kentucky
  28. Robinson Scholars at the University of Kentucky
  29. Family Medical Residency in Owensboro
  30. State Planning Fund in the Office of State Budget Director
  31. Area Development Fund in the Department for Local Government
  32. Conservation Districts Local Aid
  33. State Tree Nurseries
  34. Environmental Education Council
  35. Libraries – Direct Local Aid Non-Construction State Aid (excluding debt service)
  36. Kentucky Teacher Internships within the Educational Professional Standards Board
  37. County Costs – Sheriff’s Expense Allowance
  38. Commission on Women
  39. Kentucky Legal Education Opportunity Fund
  40. Access to Justice
  41. Life Safety or Closed Jails
  42. Local Jailers Allowance
  43. Instructional Resources (Textbooks) within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  44. Professional Development Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  45. Appalachian Learning Disabled Tutoring Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  46. Commonwealth School Improvement Fund within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  47. Community Education Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  48. Collaborative Center for Literacy Development within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  49. Go Higher within Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority
  50. Work Study scholarships within the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority
  51. Teacher Scholarships within the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority
  52. Early Childhood Development scholarships within the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority
  53. Whitehaven Welcome Center
  54. Bluegrass State Games
  55. Frankfort-based cafeterias within the Department of Parks
  56. Insurance subsidy program within the Personnel Cabinet
  57. School Technology in Coal Counties
  58. Coal County College Completion Scholarship Program
  59. Arts Council Marketing Program
  60. Georgia Chafee Teenage Parent Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  61. Leadership and Mentor Fund within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  62. Middle School Academic Center within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  63. Teacher’s Professional Growth Fund within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  64. Teacher Academies Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  65. Teacher Recruitment and Retention Program-Educator Quality and Diversity within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  66. Virtual Learning Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  67. Writing Program within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  68. Lexington Hearing and Speech Center within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  69. Heuser Hearing and Language Academy within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services
  70. Teach for America within the Kentucky Department of Education’s Learning and Results Services.
Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.