Accord at last? Senate, House leaders say they agree on budget

05/28/2010 06:04 PM

The Senate’s budget committee approved another round of tweaks to the state budget bill early Friday evening and after House Democrats huddled for more than an hour, the House speaker said the changes were OK with them.

Greg Stumbo, the Democratic House speaker from Prestonsburg, said he hoped both chambers could approve the budget by 9 p.m. to give the legislative staff enough time to finalize the paperwork so the leaders can sign it and send it to Gov. Steve Beshear by midnight.

The legislators don’t have to be done by midnight, but crossing over into Saturday would extend the session by another day at a cost of $63,000 to the taxpayers. That might mean leaving without accomplishing a formal four-year road plan, though.

“Theoretically, I think the biggest hurdle is the … budget,” he said. “If we can’t reach an accord on the road plan, we do have a document down there, House Bill 3, that amounts to a continuation budget and the operating portion of the road plan so we could receive federal monies and the counties and local governments can get their appropriations.”

He said he’s not giving up on passing the road plan too. “But what I’m saying is I think the larger hurdle was the executive branch budget. And I think we’re pretty much in shape on the executive branch budget.”

Stumbo said the changes to the section regarding school construction would address the questions House Democrats had Friday morning. It would allow the three districts who passed five-cent taxes per $100 of property to pay for school buildings will get state help in covering bond payments for the new schools. And any other districts that get voters to pass such a nickel on the property tax would be eligible for similar help.

But now it won’t rely on the the $11 million emergency fund, known as necessary government expenses, as back-up funding for the state’s share of helping with the districts’ payments. House Democrats said they were concerned the districts wouldn’t be able to sell bonds if part of the money to pay them off was shaky.

“That should satisfy the concerns about the financial markets and the bonds,” Stumbo said of the new provision.

- Ryan Alessi


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