Local News

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Reaction is coming in to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s budget-balancing plan. For one thing, the governor is calling for three-day furloughs for state workers.

Beshear says if lawmakers would approve them, furloughs could save the state eight million dollars this fiscal year. Lee Jackson of the Kentucky Association of State Employees says furloughs beat layoffs.

“I think we’re going to have to educate state employees about the severity of the budget situation,” says Jackson. “Because I think a lot of them just don’t totally get it right now. And so, furloughs at this point would be more acceptable in my mind than layoffs.”

Other aspects of the governor’s plan include a 70-cent increase in the cigarette tax, 147-million dollars in spending cuts and a raid on the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

Basic school funding, healthcare and public safety are being spared spending cuts by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who’s trying to fill a 456-million dollar hole in the state budget.

That’s good news to mental health advocate Sheila Schuster of Louisville.

“I’m relieved,” says Schuster, “because we’ve been looking at a Medicaid deficit that I was afraid was going to result in people being taken off the rolls, a reduction of services, and we cannot afford that. It doesn’t move us forward in terms of services and supports that are needed, but I think he’s really gone the extra mile to try to hold those groups, those very vulnerable groups, harmless.”

The governor will take his plan to the people in coming days, with town hall meetings in Hazard, Henderson, Dry Ridge and Ashland.