Local News

From Stu Johnson, Kentucky Public Radio

The Kentucky Senate has passed its version of a $17.3 billion state budget. It includes deeper cuts than those proposed in the House version of the budget approved earlier this month.

The House plan called upon Kentucky’s businesses to pay more to the state by moving up the deadline for paying taxes and by suspending a tax deduction for net operating losses. That provision was removed in the Senate budget. Budget committee chair Bob Leeper says hundreds of millions of dollars in House-approved school and water projects were also cut.

“People expect us to come up here and make prudent decisions and we felt the prudent decision was to reduce our base by lowering our bonded indebtedness,” he said.

The Senate plan also makes cuts in secondary and elementary education. In exchange, Senate president David Williams says schools would have more flexibility in how their money is spent and it restores two instructional days cut by the House. Lexington Senator Kathy Stein says she’s concerned about the impact of the reductions.

“I believe that by allowing cuts in education we are harming our state over the biennium.”

The Senate budget doesn’t call for additional cuts in higher education. Differences in the two budgets will likely be worked out in a conference committee.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’s disappointed with the Senate’s decision to remove some $600 million in bonded school, water and sewer projects from the House plan.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."