Stumbo says budget will be tight but estimates of $337 mil. gap are exagerated

12/09/2011 07:30 AM

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said lawmakers will have a tough job in crafting the next two-year budget, meaning lawmakers can’t promise any increases in funding for programs.

Some legislators have called for increasing funding for social workers’ pay and to reduce workload on individual social workers in light of highly publicized cases in which children under the state’s supervision have died.

“We can’t commit to anything right now with the spending that we have,” Stumbo said (6:30 of the video). “Would we like to? Yes. Do we know there’s a need? Obviously.”

But he said the economy and rising costs of obligations means Kentucky would do well to protect education and human services — but not increase funding for them.

He disagreed with Sen. Bob Leeper, the independent from Paducah, who has said he expects lawmakers to have to cover a $337 million gap between expected revenue and expenses in the 2013 budget that begins in July.

“That is a worse case scenario,” Stumbo said (7:15). “We do have challenges, there’s no question about that. There’s probably going to have to be some additional reductions or savings.”

But Stumbo did predict that Kentucky will begin to see savings soon from the Medicaid program, which engaged with three private providers on Nov. 1 to manage the health care for poor and disabled Kentuckians.

“Yes, I think the governor will hit the targets that he said that he can hit,” he said (4:00).

In the first part of the interview, Stumbo gave his take on the Health and Family Services Cabinet’s handling of child welfare cases and its failure to comply with the law to release a report on child abuse and death cases by Sept. 1. The cabinet finally released that report on Dec. 1. It showed 18 deaths of children under the state’s supervision over the last year.


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