Ky. House to vote on budget Wednesday

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WKYT) - House Democrats have rejected close to half of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's $650 million in proposed spending cuts, including all the cuts to public colleges and universities.

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee approved a two-year state spending plan Tuesday afternoon. Most Republicans voted "pass," meaning they declined to vote for or against. Rep. Jim Stewart of Flat Lick was the only Republican to vote for it.

The Democrats' proposal funds the required contributions for the state's public pension systems without borrowing money and creates less debt than Bevin's proposal.

The plan also eliminates budget cuts to all constitutional offices and the executive branch ethics commission. It would leave the state with $283 million in reserves.

"When we started down this road it was my hope that we could accomplish a few goals with the house budget, and those goals I believe this budget will meet," said Rep. Rick Rand, D-47th District, chairman of the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-95th District, told reporters that the budget plan approved by the committee should pass the House fairly smoothly.

"It looks to me like it's a pretty good document," Stumbo said. "I said all along I thought the governor made a good effort in his attempt to start this process, which he did. We kept the biggest part of that, I think refined it and moved on."

The House is scheduled to vote on the proposal Wednesday and send it to the Senate.

The governor's office responded to the House budget proposal with a statement Tuesday night.

“With only 12 days left in the 2016 legislative session, it is encouraging to see the House Democrats finally respond to the budget we put forward back in January," Jessica Ditto, communications director for Gov. Matt Bevin, said in the statement. "We are pleased to see that they clearly got the message from the people of Kentucky who are fed up with mortgaging their children’s future through bonding billions of new debt. And yet, their proposed budget once again continues the bad habit of spending one-time funds for recurring expenses. With little regard for the future, it also strips away the permanent fund dedicated for pensions and unforeseen emergencies. The Governor looks forward to working with the House and Senate as the process moves forward, to ensure the ultimate enactment of a fiscally responsible budget.”

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