How the House budget committee chairman looks to tweak, not rewrite, the governor's plan

01/31/2014 04:04 PM

House Budget Chairman Rick Rand praised Governor Steve Beshear for a budget proposal that he believes doesn’t have a lot of fluff, but Rand has questions about proposed spending in some areas.

Rand said he might look to trim funding in some areas the governor chose not to cut.
For instance, Rand said he’s looking at the 600 slots committed to the community living program in Health and Family Services Cabinet and some of the projects receiving money from the tobacco settlement fund that “have been beefed up, [but] we’re not sure where that money came from.”

“We will probably take a look at all of them and say ‘are those our priorities?’ And if they are we will leave the money there and if they aren’t we may take it out and spend it somewhere else,” Rand told Pure Politics host Ryan Alessi in an interview Thursday in his Capitol Annex office.

In his budget proposal unveiled Jan. 21, Beshear proposed moving more than $370 million in fund transfers in order to pay for some of the priorities in his budget.

That includes taking $93 million from the state employees health insurance fund. Rand said he believes the governor’s office know what they are doing with this move.

“These dollars are excess because we are self-insured now, we put in premium dollars both by the employee and the employer into a fund and at the end of the year we either have fewer claims than we paid in premiums or we have more claims,” Rand said (at 6:45 in video above). “Over the past years that fund has grown and we have fared very well.”

One of the biggest issues Republicans have taken with the governor’s budget proposal is the amount of debt Beshear is proposing to cover construction of projects and the funding of some programs. Beshear’s budget contains a debt ratio of more than 7 percent of the state’s revenue — the highest ever.

But Rand said he’s comfortable with a debt level in which seven cents of every dollar would be going to pay back those bonds.

“I believe that is well within acceptable standards,” Rand said (in video below). “That’s whats authorized, whats actually been issued has never been above six percent because all of that debt doesn’t get issued at one time and some of it never gets issued.”

Rand also praised the governor’s for items like a new approach to the community college system, the restoration of childcare cuts and others.

As for whether or not the House Democrats will be adding anything else into their version of the budget, Rand said he didn’t believe they had the money to start anything new.


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