Representatives give governor's two-year spending proposal first dose of legislative scrutiny

02/02/2016 04:03 PM

FRANKFORT — Representatives shared some concerns that they’ve heard about Gov. Matt Bevin’s $22 billion biennial budget on Tuesday, with lawmakers telling Bevin staffers their misgivings about cuts to property valuation administrators, performance-based funding for postsecondary institutions and cuts proposed by Bevin.

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee discussed Gov. Matt Bevin’s biennial budget for about two hours on Tuesday.

Some on the panel, like Reps. Bam Carney and Dean Schamore, said they’ve been contacted by property valuation administrators in their districts based on Bevin’s proposal to cut 4.5 percent in the current fiscal year.

Schamore, a Hardinsburg Democrat, said a PVA in one of his counties told him that their staff would need to be cut by a third to comply with Bevin’s proposed budget, a comment echoed by Rep. Terry Mills of Lebanon.

“The way he put it was that when we get ready to lay them off, I want you to tell me who to lay off,” Mills said.

Representative Arnold Simpson, chairman of the budget review subcommittee on postsecondary education, raised concerns on how the governor’s spending plan will affect college affordability.

He said some Kentuckians might be priced out of higher education once Bevin’s cuts reach the state’s universities and colleges, which will likely raise tuition to make up for lost state funding as they have in the past.

The Covington Democrat also said that lawmakers should have a say in the proposed performance-based funding for higher education. Bevin has budgeted about a third of the funding for postsecondary institutions into a performance-based fund.

“We trust the Council (on Postsecondary Education) and our university presidents and we have great respect for their administration,” Simpson said. “I think it’s very vital for the members of the General Assembly to participate in forming those variables.”

Rep. Kevin Sinnette expressed his misgivings about cuts made to the judicial branch budget.

As Bevin proposes funding to combat heroin addiction and increase pay for social workers, Sinnette said those areas may produce greater strain on the court system.

Rep. Rick Rand, chairman of the House budget committee, said he would like to see Bevin include the General Assembly in planning performance-based funding for colleges as well as implementing 4.5 percent cuts in the current fiscal year rather than leaving that to cabinet secretaries.

Rand also suggested that the House will look to rolling back some of the cuts proposed by Bevin.

“When you hear somebody in your town is going to lose their job it takes on a whole new meaning,” said Rand, D-Bedford.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he had no issues with how Bevin passes the 4.5 percent cuts to his cabinet secretaries.

But he also has a problem with Bevin’s proposed budget reductions for PVAs.

“That may be, in my view a bit short sighted, because they obviously are in the business of collecting revenue, so you want them, in my opinion, to be as efficient as you can make them,” said Stumbo, adding that the House would look to make PVAs exempt from the proposed cuts.

Rand says he’s not sure exactly when the House will take up its version of a spending plan, but he expects a vote will occur by late February or early March.


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