Politics

Ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Commonwealth and budget address, Gov. Matt Bevin has hinted at major spending cuts and eliminating entire sections of state government to set aside more money for the public pension systems.

Administration officials say Kentucky needs an additional $700 million for the pension systems — about 20 percent of all state spending.

Bevin hasn’t said what specific programs would be targeted or spared from budget cuts. But during an interview on KET last week, the governor promised to preserve funding for education, infrastructure, law enforcement and services for the most vulnerable in the budget.

“Everything else is extraneous,” he said. “Some of it should be done and could be done by government, perhaps. Some of it could and should be privatized. These are the things that we have to wrestle with.”

During the address, Bevin will present how he thinks the state should spend about $22 billion over the next two years. The state legislature is ultimately in charge of writing and passing a budget, but the governor’s address signals the beginning of the process.

Bevin said cabinet officials would be in charge of administering the cuts and finding entire sections of government to scale back.

Bevin’s speech will be aired live on 89.3 WFPL in partnership with KET on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.

“My budget is going to encourage some of our cabinet-level officials and people throughout government to look at not at just cutting everybody by ‘x percent’ and doing everything uniformly,” Bevin said. “Where can we remove entire sections of government where the government is not the most effective and efficient entity for delivering a particular service to the people?”

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 year.

GOP legislative leaders and Bevin also have said they want to approve legislation that would overhaul the state’s pension systems and scale back the state’s future pension liabilities.

A previous version of the bill would have tweaked benefits to current pensioners and phased out the state’s use of a system that guarantees retirement payments to employees for life.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.