Sine die update: Budget bill clears state Senate
04/15/2016 05:34 PM
FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Senate has passed the $21 billion state budget, revenue bill and the work ready scholarship program in a flurry of afternoon activity on Friday, the final day of the 2016 legislative session.
The legislation represents the culmination of weeks of negotiations between House and Senate leadership. With an unanimous vote, the Senate passed the full budget through the upper chamber and sends the bill to the House for its consideration.
Despite requests from Pure Politics, that full budget document was not available for review by reporters before House Bill 303 was passed. As soon as the legislation cleared the upper chamber, the 192-page budget bill was posted online by the Legislative Research Commission.
The bill sends more than $1 billion for the state’s struggling pension systems.
At 3 a.m. Thursday, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the budget represents “an adequate and effective blend, I believe, of the priorities contained in both the governor’s recommendation, the House budget and the Senate budget.”
Stivers agreed, saying the spending plan “sets forth the priorities of both chambers with some input from the executive branch.”
The plan does add back in some money to help rape survivors find justice in the court system.
The House version of the budget included an additional $3.6 million set aside to support fees in the prosecutions of cases tied to the backlog of untested rape kits still awaiting testing in Kentucky. The Senate’s budget struck that language. But the compromise bill includes $1 million in settlement funds across the biennium in the compromise budget.
Utilizing settlement funds from Johnson & Johnson regarding the schizophrenia drug Risperdal the budget will fund those prosecutions.
In a statement sent to Pure Politics, Attorney General Andy Beshear said the dollars will help, despite being less than requested.
“Although not at the levels we hoped for, the investment of settlement funds for rape and other prosecutions will help us fight hard to find justice for victims of crime all across Kentucky each and every day,” Beshear said.
The legislation passed the Senate without debate.
The Senate also passed the biennial revenue bill with a 38-0 vote.
Senators also passed the compromise Work Ready Scholarship program which House leaders fought for in budget negotiations. A number of Republican senators voted against the bill, but the legislation moves on to the House with a 31-7 vote.
According to negotiators, the legislation sends about $25 million for a Work Ready Kentucky scholarship program for schools that offer associate degrees, including community and technical colleges.
The legislation includes a stipulation for students to achieve a 2.5 grade-point average and other requirements.
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