Kentucky Political News Headlines

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gov. Bevin Delivers Budget Address

Governor Matt Bevin proposed his state budget in the State of the Commonwealth and Budget Address this evening in Frankfort. The focus of the budget address was "Get our Financial House in Order" as explained in various materials below released by the Governor's office and as filed the Executive Branch Budget HB 200, Transportation Budget Bill HB 201, and the Road Fund budget HB 202. We will be reviewing the budget documents in detail over the coming days. However here are a few key elements:

 - The budget does not include pension reform or pieces of tax reform
 - Pension costs for state employees and teachers are fully funded with 14.5% of the General Fund dedicated to retirement costs
 - Most state agencies will be cut by 6.25%
 - Per pupil SEEK funding is exempt from these cuts, but school district transportation costs were significantly reduced
 - Nearly 70 programs are eliminated in this budget

The budget does provide for:

 - A $100 million bond pool for workforce development
 - Funding for new prosecutors and public advocates
 - Additional $34 million to fight opioid abuse and substance abuse
 - $10.8 million for a new program to support foster children and adoption
 - $250 million to be placed in the Rainy Day Fund
- Kentucky State Police will receive new cruisers and rifles, and a modern communications system

Governor Bevin included a statement that "Kentucky must modernize it's tax code so that economic growth will lead to much-needed additional revenue to invest in education, public safety, infrastructure, health care, and other areas of need."

See the Governor's documents below for more details and we will have more analysis in the days ahead.

2018-19 budget proposal includes necessary cuts, targeted investments

commonwealth of kentucky

Commonwealth of Kentucky

Governor's Office

Contact: Woody

Gov. Bevin Delivers Plan to Continue Building

Solid Fiscal Foundation for the Commonwealth

2018-19 budget proposal includes necessary cuts, targeted investments

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 16, 2018) – Gov. Matt Bevin tonight delivered his 2018 State of the Commonwealth and Budget Address to the General Assembly and fellow Kentuckians, outlining his plan to continue getting the state's financial house in order.
"Kentucky has just completed a truly transformative year of achievement, where many important seeds of progress were sown," said Gov. Bevin. "However, the truth remains that after decades of poor financial management, the Commonwealth faces some harsh realities. These realities, coupled with modest projected revenue growth, mean that Kentucky must make tough and unpopular decisions."
Gov. Bevin's 2018-19 budget proposal calls for spending reductions in almost all areas of state government, with an across-the-board cut of 6.25 percent to most agencies. To maintain the effectiveness of priority programs, it proposes significant yet strategic cuts and the complete elimination of 70 programs. Additionally, new borrowing will be held to historically low levels, with debt service requirements under 5.63 percent of revenue, as opposed to the 2006-2016 average of 6.58 percent.
While addressing the stark fiscal realities faced by the Commonwealth, Gov. Bevin's budget proposal also calls for several landmark investments, including:
  • $3.31 billion over the biennium to fully fund state employee and teacher pension plans for the first time in nearly two decades;
  • $100 million in bond pool funding for a second round of workforce skills training;
  • $34 million in new funding from tobacco settlement funds to fight the opioid epidemic and substance abuse;
  • $24 million to add positions and increase salaries for Kentucky's social workers so we can better protect Kentucky's most vulnerable citizens;
  • $10.8 million in new funding for adoption and foster children supports; and
  • funding for 75 new commonwealth and county attorneys and 51 new public advocates to strengthen the criminal justice system.
For K-12 education, it maintains the current $3,981 per student Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) allocation. The Governor also noted that most school districts have both high administrative costs and significant reserve funds. Statewide reserve funds total over $950 million. In light of these facts, the Governor called on districts to utilize some of their reserve funds for transportation and other needs. He also expects them to reduce their administrative overhead and to pay a portion of their employees' health insurance. These significant revenue sources at the local level allowed for a reduction in General Fund support for transportation and employee health insurance.
The Governor's budget also dedicates 100 percent of lottery funds to education. This budget will return an additional $7.7 million of coal severance funds directly back to coal counties. The KLEFPF fund remains fully dedicated to supporting law enforcement and firefighters, and the recently increased $4,000 annual training stipend has been retained. Kentucky State Police will receive upgrades to dangerous and outdated cruisers and rifles, and a modern statewide communications system for law enforcement will be funded. In addition, the budget closes the film incentive program to new applicants.
Gov. Bevin noted that some budget reductions could be avoided if the General Assembly enacts meaningful pension reform this session. Tax reform could also have significant impact and lead to a less austere budget. Gov. Bevin emphasized that he is calling for genuine tax reform that will make Kentucky more competitive with its neighboring states — not merely a bump in the sales tax or an increase in the cigarette tax, both of which have been proposed by many. Genuine reform will spur economic growth and result in much-needed additional revenue for education, public safety, infrastructure, health care and other vital services.
Budget documents can be found at the Office of State Budget Director's website, and a video of the full State of Commonwealth and Budget Address can be viewed on the Governor's official Facebook page. To download a budget fact sheet, click here.