Lexington, KY – Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Lexington City leaders presided over a rally of sorts in support of the governor's proposed budget. To address an estimated 456 million dollar deficit, Beshear's spending plan calls for 4 percent cuts for various state agencies, while protecting others. Beshear says primary and secondary education, local college and university funding, and mental health care represent his three highest funding priorities.
A key aspect of Beshear's proposed revenue boost will come from a 70 cent increase in the state cigarette tax. Every leader who spoke, including UK President Lee Todd, Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, Fayette County Schools Superintendent Stu Silberman, and Kentucky League of Cities CEO Sylvia Lovely endorsed the plan. Critics claim the tobacco tax will be a tough sell in the General Assembly, particularly for those lawmakers in areas that border other states. The Legislature will debate and vote on a budget during its upcoming session in January.