FRANKFORT, Ky. -- – A $17.5 billion biennial budget cleared the Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday night.
The vote was 19-5 with Republican Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington of Ft. Wright among opponents. She says the budget shortchanges her district on bonded projects for schools. "I want my people in Kenton County, and in Ft. Mitchell to know, and Beechwood, that I will continue to fight to get Beechwood School replaced at some point in my tenure," she said.
The only Democrat voting no was Louisville Rep. Jim Wayne. He's concerned about the $2.2 billion in total bonded indebtedness in the budget. "The news this evening that we have a historically high debt at 7.43% ratio is just appalling in this time. And so I don't think it's a responsible thing to vote for this, so I vote no."
But House budget chairman Rick Rand says bond rates are low and it's a good time to borrow. "I don't know if [Kentucky's bond debt total] is the highest we've ever been," Rand said. "It's probably higher than we would hope that it would be. But we have to do extraordinary measures in extraordinary times and we're prepared to do that." Rand added that he's confident the bond rating agencies will be pleased to see the budget includes a $21 million surplus in the second year.
The budget includes no pay raises, eliminates two instructional days for local schools, and cuts university funding 1.5 percent the first year and one percent the second year.