Final passage of a 20 billion dollar state budget brought with it high praise, but also some expression of disappointment and frustration.
Once budget conferees from the House and Senate churn out a compromise plan, approval is all but guaranteed, but not without some sentiments from legislators. In his first session, Senator Reggie Thomas likes what the biennial budget does in k through 12 education. "I particularly like the fact that, over the next two years, we're going to appropriate 181 million dollars toward public education. We have come from 49th to ninth in the country in terms of public education and we need to do more to reach that number one status," said Thomas. Senate Minority Floor Leader R.J. Palmer says funding for Kindergarten through high school is the highest since the reform act was launched almost a quarter century ago. In capital construction, a provision to borrow 65 million dollars to go toward the Rupp Arena-convention center project was not in the final budget. It disappointed Lexington Senator Alice Kerr. "The icons of Kentucky, the icons are the twin spires of Churchill Downs and the University of Kentucky Rupp Arena and that is important to the nation," said Kerr. Kerr says the downtown project can be a "game changer' for Lexington. The budget does include one and a half million dollars toward the Rupp project. Even those casting aye votes expressed concern. Grayson Senator Robin Webb would have like to have more time to review the document. "You know, I stand up here and I don't like voting on a bill that I haven't read and I'm just gonna say I just got this a little while ago, got some highlights, got a briefing. That's fine, appreciate it. But, you know, I haven't had the opportunity to read this," said Webb. Final approval of the budget in the Senate came on a 37 to one vote. Lawmakers return in mid April to consider any gubernatorial vetoes.