Kentucky budget battle heating up as legislative session winds d - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky budget battle heating up as legislative session winds down

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Kentucky's legislative session winds down, the battle over how to spend your tax dollars is heating up at the Capitol.

On Tuesday, a new voice entered the budget debate: the House Republicans. Their spending plan generally follows Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin's recommendations, but with some spending cuts restored.

"Many believe we had a moral obligation to try to get our out-of-control spending under control," said Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington).

The House GOP budget maintains most of the 9-percent cuts proposed by Gov. Bevin, but it does restore some education funding, including the school-based Family Resource and Youth Service Centers.

"Because of the impact that they have," said Rep. Regina Bunch (R-Williamsburg). "They address the whole child, family and community."

The GOP plan also restores funding to public protection and veterans services.

"When we started going through the budget line-by-line, we found out quickly there had been an inadvertent cut applied to the Department of Veterans Affairs. We restore those cuts," said Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Brownsville).

The cuts to colleges and universities remain, but the plan does give them more flexibility in spending and borrowing.

Republicans also cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

"I'm proud to stand here with House Republicans to tell the citizens of the Commonwealth that we have no part in funding this terrible organization," said Lee.

The proposal also sets aside a $500 million dedicated revenue source for pension and health benefits, as Governor Bevin recommended. It does not include the governor's plan for $100 million in workforce development bonds. House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover said members want more information as to how the funds would be used.

But does any of it matter? Republicans are even more outnumbered in the House following last week's special elections. Those new members, three Democrats and one Republican were sworn in Tuesday.

"Hopefully we'll be able to come together and put together what may be one of the better budgets I've ever seen since I've been here," said House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg).

Hoover says he's counting on that.

"When these members here, even though they're in the minority, are given an opportunity to present their ideas and have debate on their ideas, the process is better. And the end result is better," said Hoover (R-Jamestown).

Democrats unveil their budget plan later Tuesday afternoon following the day’s legislative session. A final vote could come Wednesday, then it's on to the Senate.

It’s a lot to get done in just 12 working days.

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