Gov. Beshear line-item vetoes revenue bill in anticipation of higher tobacco settlement shortfall

04/07/2015 08:56 AM

Anticipating a potentially higher than expected shortfall in master tobacco settlement funds, Gov. Steve Beshear has line-item vetoed part of a revenue bill passed this session.

Beshear, in a news release Monday, said provisions in House Bill 510 appropriating money to K-12 education, municipal road maintenance and the Budget Reserve Trust Fund remain intact after the veto, but the projected $26.6 million shortfall in MSA revenue this year may reach $37.8 million once states receive their payments later this month.

The $11.2 million dip would have required budget cuts to agriculture, health and early childhood programs, according to Beshear, who called his line-item vetoes “consistent with the intent of the General Assembly as expressed in HB 510.”

“Because the session is over, we can’t go back to amend the bill,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “Fortunately, we’ve devised a way to preserve the General Assembly’s intent of supporting these worthy programs and avoid cuts to the very programs they sought to protect.

“On balance, HB510 is a blockbuster accomplishment for this session, because it supports our schools, local governments and the agricultural community, and I am proud that the full legislative intent will be realized.”

Echoing Beshear, officials with three cancer centers, the Kentucky Farm Bureau and an early childcare program praised the governor’s decision.

Dr. Mark Evers, director of the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center, said an additional cut in MSA funds “would be difficult,” and Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, said the tobacco settlement provides “a crucial source of funding for cancer research.”

“We understand that through HB510 legislators intended to make sure cancer research like ours continues with reliable funding, and we applaud Gov. Beshear for finding a way to do that despite late fluctuations on available MSA funds,” Miller said in a statement.

A reduction in MSA payments would have likely meant “fewer children would get access to programs to help prepare them for school,” said Terry Tolan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood.

“That’s not acceptable, and I am grateful for the Governor’s leadership to provide access to funds so those cuts won’t happen,” Tolan said in the news release.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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