COVID-19 Means Kentucky General Assembly to Vote on One-Year Budget

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Due to the financial uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Kentucky lawmakers will only be voting on a one-year budget, instead of the typical two-year budget. 

“That is a fairly unprecedented move but in these times of both health and financial insecurity we believe it to be the most prudent decision,” Senate Appropriation and Revenue Chair Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, said Tuesday. 

The House and Senate will be crafting the one-year budget based on the pessimistic Consensus Forecasting Group revenue projections resulting in about $136 million less being used to craft the budget. 

The projected loss in revenue means the budget will look very different than it did at the beginning of the month when it passed the House chamber. Schools will no longer see their per-pupil SEEK funding increased nor will teachers or state employees see one percent pay increases. 

“This legislation will simply do this, it will hold per-pupil SEEK levels at the current year,” said House Appropriation and Revenue Chair Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah. “Unfortunately and as much as it pains me it will not include any raises for anyone.”

The legislature will continue to fully fund pensions by putting in the actuarially amount into the pension systems while continuing to provide pension relief to universities and quasi-governmental agencies, like community health centers. 

“It will freeze contribution rates for our quasi’s and universities for one more year,” Rudy explained. “And with other legislation that will be pending that will accompany the spending plan, it will delay the implementation of House Bill 1 from the 2019 extraordinary session”

The budget also provides Gov. Andy Beshear flexibility to use federal funding to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The budget presented will reflect our focus on the current crisis both in the dollars we allocate as well as the unprecedented level of flexibility granted to the governor to respond to the crisis as federal aid flows in while preserving the long-standing constitutionally designated role of the General Assembly,” McDaniel said. 

The Kentucky Poison Control Center will also see increased funding as they grapple with the increased demand for calls relating to the pandemic. The center will see $300,000 additional dollars for the current year and $850,000 for 2021. 

Lawmakers will be back in session Wednesday to vote on the Executive Branch, legislative and judicial branch budgets.