Kentucky Political News Headlines

Friday, March 30, 2012

Legislative Update - Budget Compromise

We Have a Deal...

Legislative Leaders reached a tentative agreement on the state budget around 3:00 a.m. last night. Details are still coming out about what the finished product includes but here are a few notes regarding the budget deal and the schedule for the rest of the 2012 General Assembly session:

- As we have been saying repeatedly over the last month the main theme of this budget would be the level of bonded indebtedness of the state. The Governor included $968 million in his budget, the House reduced that to $552 million, and the Senate version included a further cut in bonded debt to $391 million. We expect based on the conversations last night that the final compromise will be closer to the Senate number if not a few million below that.

- Not surprisingly, this is a very limited budget in terms of projects. The only big ticket items that made it through the compromise last night were: funding for the Horse Park, creation and funds for the coal county scholarship fund, Rupp Arena renovation, and limited funding for the Quality Charity Care Trust contingent on participation by the city of Louisville. 

- The big difference between the House and Senate budgets was that the Senate required the Governor to cut contracts by $100 million over the next two years. The budget compromise reportedly requires $80 million in "efficiencies" not specific to contracts. Its unclear if this would force furloughs, layoffs, or if the Governor may opt to veto that language.

More details will emerge today on the budget.

Schedule & What's Left

At the end of the committee meeting last night the Leadership agreed to meet this morning at 10:00 in the Speaker's Office to finalize 2 items:

1. Any deals needed on other bills related to the budget, like: HB 499 the appropriations/funds source bill for the budget, HB 260 that creates the coal county scholarship fund, HB 50 that deals with bonding, and any others. The Speaker made an appeal for HB 401, his false claims act, last night so it may also be in the mix.

2. The Road Budget. This nor the Road Plan, the actual project list, were part of the discussion the last three days. Once the Leadership agrees this morning on the actual Road Budget, then the conference committee led by Rep. Overly and Sen. Harris would begin to reconcile differences in the House and Senate Road Plans. 

The hope of the Leadership is to have all budgets ready to vote around 3:00 on Friday. They don't have any intention of moving around any of their three final legislative days as of 3:00 a.m. last night. So, the legislature appears to be planning to utilize Day 58 and Day 59 today and tomorrow, then recess until April 12, based on the current calendar, when they would return for the final legislative day to override any vetoes.

In order to meet the 3:00 Friday deadline they are in good shape with the General Fund and Judicial budgets, but the Road Plan and Road Fund budget would need to be done and to the printed by roughly 3:00 this afternoon as it takes 24 hours to print. A short time for the Road Plan conference committee to work. 

We will provide more details as they emerge here are the latest news articles: