Senate Budget chair expects pension funding, public safety and education

03/19/2018 03:47 PM

FRANKFORT — The Senate is poised to deliver their budget recommendations as lawmakers reach the final working days before the veto recess.

The upper chamber will forego tax increases included by the House in their budget document, which will drop the dollars available to spend, but will make different recommendations that Gov. Matt Bevin, Senate Budget Chair Chris McDaniel told Pure Politics on Monday.

In what he says will be a “bottoming out process” for the state, McDaniel said Kentuckians can expect a budget which fully funds the ARC for the underwater state pension plans, investments in public safety and education system. McDaniel said the budget on the dollars matches Bevin estimates, but focuses more on current obligations.

The Budget chairman said the document will serve as a reminder of the “hard fiscal realities” facing Kentucky.

Under the House version of the budget the lower chamber funded the SEEK formula to the tune of 60 million each year — more than 4,000 dollars per pupil. It also restored other cuts to higher education, and it included $127 million dollars for transportation funding for school districts.

The Taylor Mill Republican said the Senate spending plan would differ from the House version, but said would work towards modernizing education. The Senate plan is also expected to include a “variant” of transportation funding included in the plan at an “appropriate investment” level.

The upper chamber also recognizes the need for more investment in front-line social workers, McDaniel said.

“We have an obligation to deliver justice, stability, permanency for those folks and I anticipate our budget will reflect priorities very similar to the governor’s [budget request],” he said.

The Senate is expected to pass a budget quickly in an effort to reach a conference committee with the House, in which both chambers can agree upon and pass before the veto period begins on March 29. By passing and agreeing to a budget before the veto recess, the legislature will retain their Constitutional veto override.

While the Senate is taking a hands-off approach to individual taxes, McDaniel did make an argument in favor of comprehensive tax reforms in the state, but it is unclear when that effort could be undertaken.

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