Kentucky budget talks collapse amid spending controversy

House Speaker Rep. Greg Stumbo speaks after budget talks collapse

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers say they have reached an impasse on budget negotiations, putting a two-year spending plan in jeopardy and risking a partial government shutdown.

House and Senate leaders announced at about 10:30 Thursday morning they were unable to reach a deal. They have met secretly for several days trying to reach a compromise in time for the legislature to approve the deal on Friday.

House Democrats insist they will not allow budget cuts for education. Senate Republicans says the cuts are needed to pay down the state's more than $30 billion pension debt.

Lawmakers could still pass a budget by April 15. But Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the only way he would agree to that is if Republican Gov. Matt Bevin agreed he would not veto parts of the budget.

"Budget talks have reached a low," said Stumbo said as he announced the stalemate Thursday morning.

House and Senate leaders met for hours on Wednesday in a series of secret meetings that sometimes included Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Senate budget chairman Chris McDaniel said the two sides are trying to craft a compromise but said no major agreements have been reached.

Democrats control the House of Representatives while Republicans control the Senate. In a budget that includes $21 billion of state tax dollars, the two sides cannot agree on how to spend about $300 million. Democrats want to spend it on education while Republicans want to spend it on paying down the state's massive public pension debt.

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