Two year budgets for all three branches of state government have now passed one chamber of the Kentucky General Assembly. The House spent more than an hour debating the details of the executive, legislative and judicial budgets before easily passing all three. They also passed a bill creating a tax amnesty program that Governor Steve Beshear requested. The House did slightly change Beshear’s original executive budget. And lawmakers also cut the legislative and judicial budgets by eight point four percent.
House Budget Chairman Rick Rand says the budget passed isn’t one to brag about, but helps the government maintain important functions.
“And you know, Mr. Speaker, it’s probably hard for us to go home and beat our chest and say we’ve done something great this particular year. We’ve balanced our budget, the budget’s balanced and we have worked as hard as we can to maintain the programs I believe this House holds sacred,” Rand says.
All budget bills must start in the House. And while House members acknowledge the budget is far from perfect, House budget chairman Rick Rand says one good thing is a reduction of debt.
“So it’s the recommendation of this House that we cut the amount of bonded indebtness, the amount of commitments that we were going to commit in this budget, in half," Rand says.
The House did that by rejecting all university agency bond projects, which universities pay for but count against the state debt ratio.
The budget bills now move to the state Senate, where more changes are expected.