Lawmakers on hot seat as budget deadline looms

By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email
Posted by Mike Dever - email

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Recent polls show Kentuckians are angry at state legislators. After three months of work, they failed to agree on a budget. One of those lawmakers says the political backlash caused him to lose the primary.

On Tuesday 24 committee members voted yea on the budget, but many expressed frustrations after doing so.

"For fear of shutting state government down I will vote yes, so that we will have a budget because a bad budget is superior to no budget at all," said Rep. Don Pasley (D-Madison).

Only two voted nay. One of whom was Rep. Charles Siler of Whitley, first elected in 1984.

"A bad budget is worse than no budget," disagreed Siler.

Siler lost his primary, which he blames on the lack of a budget.

"It was a close vote, .7 of 1 percent, but that was the margin," said Siler. "I didn't overcome it and I couldn't see it coming."

Many members agree they liked the House budget from the regular session best, which was filled with new capital projects to create jobs.

"The house budget that we originally passed truly was a masterpiece," said Rep. Harry Moberly (D-Madison) and former budget chairman.

Without naming names, Rep. Ron Weston from Jefferson County blamed the Senate, lead by President David Williams, for being obstructionists. He called it "the worst of politics."

"When you have people and children and disabled, when you have them suffer, then you should be held responsible," said Weston.

The roughly $17 billion budget is similar the Governor's most recent proposal and compromise, but doesn't fund construction projects for the state's worst schools. The Appropriations and Revenue Chair Rick Rand says there isn't enough to do it right. The governor proposed a matching program, nickel for nickel with local jurisdictions.

"They're either not large enough or they don't have the tax base to support it," said Rand.

The new budget proposes using half of that money to study the schools and re-classify them.

"A lot of schools that are a category four and some that are a category five - there's a lot of questions about how they should be categorized," said Rand.

There are near across the board cuts to many state agencies, but not the basic education funding, SEEK.

It reinstates the two school instructional days the House originally cut. This time one will be paid for by the state, the other by the local jurisdiction.

The House was brining in revenue through a business tax credit suspension and accelerated collection of sales tax to help pay for capital projects. Those new ones are now out.

Rand did add an amendment that would give the Governor some authority to add furloughs.

"Our plan gives the governor the ability to write a furlough plan and we put some stipulations on there we would like to see," said Rand.

Lawmakers are expected to vote the budget through the full House Wednesday.

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