Ky. lawmakers pass budget - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. lawmakers pass budget

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky lawmakers passed a two-year budget plan for the Commonwealth late Monday evening.

It happened after the leadership of both chambers came to a hard-fought agreement over the weekend.

It took marathon negotiations and a long Monday session, but both the Senate and the House passed the $20-billion dollar budget.

Among the budget's reported highlights, a one-and-a-half percent cut to state universities, which is less of a cut than Gov. Steve Beshear proposed.

The University of Louisville will get an $80-million classroom building.

There is $50 million to renovate the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Public school teachers will receive a pay raise; one-percent next year and two-percent in 2016.

The budget impasse was broken only after leaders of the Democratic House and Republican Senate got into a shouting match during the marathon negotiations.

When asked what led to the breakthrough, House Speaker Greg Stumbo smiled and said, "Well, some would say it was the fisticuffs that occurred earlier. But I am not so crass as to say that."

"Once steam was released made more on the side of the Speaker that we decided it was time to just sit down, conduct ourselves in a professional way. And we went and did that," said Senate President Robert Stivers.

"Everybody had a common purpose. And that purpose in the end was to get a budget for the people of Kentucky and do our jobs," Stumbo said.

Also significant is what apparently will not pass this session: casino gambling, tax reform, local option sales tax and a bill restoring voting rights to some felons.

"It is like that Rolling Stone song I have often quoted down here. You cannot always get what you want but if you try, you can get what you need. What we needed was a good balanced budget," said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer.

Lawmakers will now take a two-week break, and then return for a two-day wrap-up session, including considering whether to override any vetoes by Gov. Beshear.

The General Assembly also approved a bill to allow doctors at two Kentucky research hospitals to prescribe medicine derived from marijuana oil. Families shared emotional stories with lawmakers earlier this year about the need to legalize the use of the drug and it's products for medical purposes.

Also on the Governor's desk is a new bill that applies age restrictions for popular e-cigarettes. The bill bars anyone younger thatn 18-years-old from buying them.

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