Budget Ax will Swing Freely this Session
No Kentucky state agencies or budget line items are safe this year, according to House Budget Chairman Rick Rand. In the past few budgets, education funding has been largely protected from cuts. But now, there’s little left to trim in many state agencies, leaving everything on the table. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has warned that pending cuts to the state budget will be painful. Beshear hasn't given any indication of how painful the cuts will be, but Rand has an idea.
Teacher and state worker layoffs are unlikely, he says. But so are wage increases for state workers.
“Well for some agencies there’s already been a great deal of pain, I think, and we’ve saved some of the larger portions of our budget [previously]," Rand says. "SEEK and universities to some degree have taken some cuts, but not as much as other areas. And I think that all of those areas are probably gonna feel the pain this time more so than they have.”
Rand also says he isn't aware of any discussions of cuts of up to nine percent cut to state Cabinets, despite various reports that such talks have happened. Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson says that as part of ongoing discussions about Beshear's budget, state Cabinets has been told to prepare their own budgets with a possible nine percent cut added in.
Rand says he hasn't heard anything of that nature from the governor or his staff. But added that this year, anything is possible.
“I don’t think there can really be anything off the table at this point for us to achieve a balanced budget,” he says.