No budget deal reached as lawmakers prepare to resume negotiations Thursday

03/30/2016 08:49 PM

FRANKFORT — Lawmakers left the Capitol without a budget agreement again on Wednesday with talks scheduled to resume 9 a.m. Thursday.

The 19-member budget negotiating committee met in private inside a Capitol Annex conference room for more than three hours Wednesday morning before resuming negotiations elsewhere in the Annex for more than five hours more.

None of the meeting was opened to the public.

Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, told reporters that legislators on the budget conference committee have established “some tentative frameworks” on the more than $21 billion biennial budget, but he declined to offer specifics.

The General Assembly is expected to return Friday to vote on House Bill 303, the two-year executive branch budget.

“We’re working hard towards a resolution,” he said.

Lawmakers on the panel took various proposals back to their respective caucuses in attempts to hammer out an agreement on the spending plan, he said. At one point, McDaniel said Gov. Matt Bevin met with members of the panel in a meeting Wednesday, although he said he did not see House Speaker Greg Stumbo there.

“Obviously different people have different specialties trying to figure out, ‘OK, what can we get here? What can we move there?’ and try to begin to work towards a resolution,” McDaniel said.

Both legislative leaders offered appreciative words toward conferees and staffers, but no indication that a deal is imminent, in released statements after the budget committee adjourned.

“We have been working all day with Senate leadership, trying to iron out our differences,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “We appreciate their work and the work of the staff.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said lawmakers “had a productive day of discussions and we are still trying our best to reach a resolution on the state budget. I applaud all the efforts of the conferees and staff.”

Budget talks have stalled largely along partisan lines. Democrats on the budget conference committee have said they want proposed spending cuts restored in K-12 and postsecondary education while Republicans have appropriated a larger share of tax dollars in the state’s underfunded pension programs in their version of the two-year budget, among other differences.

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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