Ky. Senators explain budget changes -- what they liked and what they didn't agree with

03/23/2012 07:12 AM

The Senate aimed to replenish Kentucky’s “rainy day fund” and cut the amount of money the state borrows in order to take “a major step forward in righting the financial situation” of the commonwealth, Senate President David Williams said after the chamber passed the latest draft of the budget.

“We hope we can reach an accord” with House leaders, Williams said.

Williams wouldn’t say what he thought was the most significant change made from the House version of the budget to the Senate’s version, which only became public late Thursday afternoon.

But that doesn’t mean Williams agreed with everything in – or left out — of this version of the budget.

Williams said he was among those who wanted to use multi-county coal severance tax money to pay for scholarships for eastern Kentucky students to go to college. That was an offshoot of a since-abandoned proposal to absorb the independent University of Pikeville into the public university system.

The Senate kept the $21 million in new money to hire additional social workers over the next two years — one of a few priorities for which Gov. Steve Beshear chose to recommend additional funding when he unveiled his budget plan in January.

Another of Beshear’s suggested funding increases, $15 million over two years to boost public preschool funding, got cut in half by the House, then the Senate took out the other $7.5 million.

“It’s just not the time to be spending it when other areas are taking cuts,” Leeper said.

The budget passed with few public objections from Senate Democrats. Three of them voted against it.

Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, was one of the few who Senate Democrats who spoke on the Senate floor. But she said she voted in favor of it despite only getting a couple hours to review the 210-page document.

In an interview after that, she explained her frustration with the process, what changes concerned her and why she believed there were fewer major changes to the spending plan this year as opposed to past years.

And she also said, “sometimes the debt ratio is not indicative of what is needed for economic recovery.” See why in the interview:


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