VERSAILLES, Ky. — Governor Andy Beshear said he’s fairly pleased with the House’s budget proposal, one that doesn’t include major spending cuts and includes funding for areas he feels strongly about.
“I believe they tried to put out a budget that wouldn’t hurt people and would even offer some help, so I’m pleased, but I’m going to continue pushing for some changes,” Beshear said.
The House unveiled a $23.8 billion budget Thursday and approved it Friday, sending it to the Senate.
There’s plenty he wants to see changed, like adding funds for $2,000 raises for teachers and more social workers than the 100 House leaders put in their proposal.
Beshear pitched 350 new social workers in his budget proposal.
Another change he wants to see is more funding for KentuckyWired or any funding since the House budget cuts the program entirely.
Beshear said canceling that funding source could cost the state nearly half a billion dollars because of contractual obligations.
“We don’t have any other options. Whether you like or dislike the project, the failure to put funding in will cost the commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars,” Beshear said. “And it’s coming online right now. Costs have stabilized and we believe that there’s even going to be some income coming here in the near future.”
On the legislative side, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he’s glad to see the House sending a budget in early March— a welcome change from how the legislature used to handle the budget.
“In years past, we have been given the budget in the Senate only with a few days to go within the session,” Stivers said.
Stivers said that will allow lawmakers to have much more time to negotiate the deal and send it to the governor’s desk.
“And for us to come back and maintain our constitutional abilities to override any gubernatorial vetoes,” Stivers said.
Stivers said he’ll take more time to read the budget over the weekend to gauge how he feels about it, but he believes it’s a good start.
Beshear said he doesn’t anticipate a heated debate over the next few weeks.
“We’ve found common ground in public education, though I think we need a bigger teacher raise,” Beshear said. “We found common ground in adding social workers, even though I believe that we need some more. We’ve got important parts in healthcare in there. While I would like to see a little more funding, it should be enough to make sure that we are providing for our people.”
The budget has to be finalized by the time the session ends on April 15.