Following hours of final deliberations, the Kentucky House and Senate agreed to a budget Monday night.
The $20.3 million dollar spending plan maintains most of the priorities related to education that Gov. Steve Beshear laid out in his recommendations in January – boosting funding for K-12 and mandating raises for teachers, though at lower levels than original proposed. Lawmakers lessened the impact of higher education cuts proposed Beshear by reducing them from 2.5 to 1.5 percent. Democratic Sen. Minority Leader R.J. Palmer told the chamber it’s a victory of sorts.
"No one's ecstatic about a reduction in funding to higher education, but we can all be proud that we reduced that reduction so that we can continue to try to educate the future of our state," he said.
But Lexington Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr bemoaned the lack of funding for the city’s Rupp Arena renovation project.
"Rupp Arena and the University of Kentucky Wildcats for most people, not just in Lexington, is really kind of the circulatory system of the Bluegrass," Kerr told her colleagues.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo agreed, adding, "I think it would be a tremendous public policy mistake not to move forward on the Rupp Arena project."
While the governor asked for the complete restoration of $58 million in child care assistance cuts made last year, the compromise bill contributes $39 million in the first year and a the complete amount in 2015.
The budget also authorizes $743 million in General Fund supported bonds compared to the $1.07 recommended in the governor’s budget.
The document now heads to the governor's desk.