Ky. Gov’s Budget Plan Focuses On Schools
By Mike Perleberg
(Frankfort, Ky.) – Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear wants to cut back almost across the board so that the state can increase funding for one area: schools.
The governor presented his two-year state budget proposal during a Tuesday evening address in Frankfort. The proposed $20 billion spending plan would reduce funding for most state agencies to provide for a $189 million increase in education funding.
“We can and we must build a more vibrant Kentucky. And this proposal provides the roadmap to do just that,” Beshear told lawmakers.
Kentucky has not increased education funding for the past five years. This boost, the governor claims, would lift per-pupil K-12 funding in the state to its highest level ever. Teachers would see pay increases of three percent by the second fiscal year.
Higher education would also benefit by way of $1.2 billion in general fund and agency bonds. The “strategic borrowing” would pay for new construction on campuses across the state, including $97 million for renovations to Northern Kentucky University’s health center.
But increasing education spending would come at a cost which Beshear said he was “painfully aware” of. The proposal calls for $98.6 million in cuts over the next two years. Many state agencies would see reductions of five percent in the first year, then the same budget the following year.
Many of the affected agencies already saw their wallets shrunk by more than 40 percent in 2008 at the onset of the economic recession. Beshear warned that those departments might have to delay services, possibly close some facilities, and maybe layoff personnel.
“Imagine running a business and being told to maintain the same level of services while slashing your budget 41 percent. That is a difficult and sometimes impossible task,” said Beshear.
The governor’s plan also sets aside $60 million for advanced design and construction work of the Interstate 75 Brent Spence Bridge.