Senate A&R committee finds agreement in Bevin's budget request

02/09/2016 02:52 PM

FRANKFORT – Senators got their first rundown of the in-depth executive branch budget on Tuesday, and had a decidedly more favorable opinion of the document than it’s been received in the state House.

There were some questions and requests for specifics from members of the Republican controlled chamber.

Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz, questioned state Budget Director John Chilton about how agencies will handle the proposed 4.5 percent cuts for this fiscal year.

“Have you seen innovative ways that agencies are trying to make these cuts in the current year which are going to allow for the least amount effect to them and the people who are employed,” Humphries asked.

“The governor has allowed the secretaries to make determinations on exactly how to implement cuts and they have not reported back to us how they propose to achieve the cuts,” Chilton responded.

Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, noted to Chilton that $6.2 million was being provided over the biennium to support 44 additional Public Defenders to reduce caseloads, but felt that the bigger problem was the salaries currently paid to public defenders which has led to a lot of turnover.

“You know, they can’t keep public defenders because, for the salary that we pay them, they don’t stay very long,” Parrett said. “If we’re going to look at giving raises for correctional officers, did we look at raises for our public defenders?”

“The emphasis in the budget is to be able to decrease the caseload of the public defenders, therefore making them more effective in their defense,” Chilton said.

Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset, praised Bevin for his budget proposal saying that it’s time to face the state’s economic challenges.

“Tough times call for tough decisions and I think we all agree that budget cuts have to be made but nobody wants to cut themselves,” Girdler said. “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die kind of thing.”

At the conclusion of the presentation was a list of items which are not in the budget.

These included items such as tax reform, Medicaid transformation, broadly applied performance funding across government, analysis of tax credits and incentives, attracting new businesses, encouraging business expansion and long-term plan for parks.

Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, was excited about the future possibilities in those areas.

“That infers that these are policy places that the administration is excited to someday go,” Givens said. “Those are places that we as policy makers would really enjoy working with the administration.”


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