Kentucky lawmakers have a month remaining in the 2014 legislative session, and in that time they must pass a new state budget.
The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee has approved a series of bills, including a modified version of the governor’s proposed $20.3 billion, two-year budget.
Committee Chair Rick Rand says his chamber’s version is “virtually the same” as Gov. Steve Beshear’s draft.
It largely preserves Beshear’s plan to increase funding to K-12 education, and makes investments in expanding child foster care; pay raises for state employees; additional funding for state prosecutors; and more.
But it’s not all sunny for education. In order to balance the budget, Rand says he had to reduce pre-school services for low-income families by $10 million.
“It was about five million each year,” says Rand, a Bedford Democrat. “It was just the fact that we had a $40 million hole we had to fill, and you know, we had to find places to do that. It really wasn’t anything beyond that.”
The measure heads to the full House today. Where it will likely inspire more political jousting. After the bills passed , Republican House Floor Leader Jeff Hoover released a statement saying the plan is “laden with increased debt and higher taxes.”
But Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said it’s one of the best options available.
“Gov. Beshear has done a very good job in managing us through this Republican recession, created by George Bush and Mitch McConnell, and the governor has recommended that we invest in infrastructure through sound, prudent, financial deliberations,” Stumbo says.
Stumbo expects the measure to pass the House.