A quick guide to the initial changes to the budget made by the Senate

03/24/2014 01:52 PM

The Senate’s Appropriations and Revenue committee approved its version of a $20 billion two-year state budget that makes a host of changes from what the House passed earlier this month and what Gov. Steve Beshear proposed.

The measure passed Monday with four Democrats passing. Republican Sen. Sara Beth Gregory voted no.

The bill, as well as funding measures for the legislative and judicial branches, are expected to be taken up on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.

One change is the inclusion of language that bars state general funds from being used to pay for programs that are part of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Bob Leeper, the Paducah independent who chairs the committee, said that shouldn’t affect the Kentucky Health Exchange or Medicaid expansion because administration officials told lawmakers federal funds will cover those costs. In addition, the state plans to implement a 1 percent fee on insurance premiums to help run the exchange in the future. But Leeper said the senators don’t consider that source to be general funds.

Among the other changes:

- Reduces the restoration of funding for child care stipends to help low income parents making between 100 percent and 150 percent of the poverty rate to cover daycare costs.

- Restores 2.5 percent cut to public colleges and universities operations

- Reduces the number of projects, including most general fund-bonded university and college buildings except a veterinary building and an advanced manufacturing building. And new language says that money collected from an increased tuition fee from students can only be applied to buildings at the campus in which that student attends.

- Cuts other projects, including funding for renovations to Rupp Arena and the Louisville International Convention Center.

- Overall, the debt ratio in the Senate version drops to 6.26 percent compared to revenue, down from 7.05 percent in the governor’s budget.

- Provides funding for the Kentucky State Police commissioner to hire back 25 retired troopers. The Kentucky State Police still would be slated to take a 2.5 percent operating budget cut. But the more than $1 million provided for the rehiring of those troopers helps the agency, which has seen its ranks shrink to a 30-year low.

- Keeps the same funding level for K-12 education but changes the language to allow for teacher raises instead of requiring them. Leeper said about 60 districts could go into the red if forced to give the same level of teacher raises as other districts.

More to come.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Senate’s change to the child care stipend. It reduced the amount but didn’t eliminate the restoration of funds.)

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