Kentucky House members say not to expect many changes to the governor’s budget when the House version comes before the chamber on Wednesday.
Despite efforts to prevent Beshear’s proposed 2.5 percent cut for higher education, lawmakers say they were unable to find the money. House Appropriations and Revenue Committee chair Rep. Rick Rand says financial constraints left House members little leeway.
"Our budget is virtually the same as the governor's budget if you look at the last two that we have passed where there were wholesale changes. In this one, most of his large and primary initiatives will remain virtually intact," Rand says.
If the cuts stay put, Kentucky’s universities and community colleges will have absorbed a 17 percent cut since the beginning of the recession.
One change, however, involves the governor’s proposal to allow property valuation administrators to tack on new fees for special taxing districts, such as health departments and libraries. The Appropriations and Revenue Committee chose instead to add $2 million to their year-ending budget over the next two years. That change came after the panel heard testimony from the districts.
"I got letter after letter after letter from all over the state from fire departments and all special districts saying we just can't afford to do that. Our budgets won't allow it," Rand says.
Lawmakers expect the House version to pass committee Tuesday and win approval by the full House on Wednesday.
The document would then head to the Republican-controlled Senate for consideration.