Budget Shortfall Looms Large For Ky. Legislators

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A more than $450 million hole in Kentucky's state budget is likely to fill much of the General Assembly's time when lawmakers convene in January.

Gov. Steve Beshear has predicted drastic funding cuts, and he's suggested a possible special session for lawmakers early next year to deal exclusively with Kentucky's budget problem. Last week, he asked university and government agency officials to suggest how they'd cut 4 percent in spending this year.

Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley says the state's two options are to raise money or cut expenses.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a two-year, $19 billion budget nearly eight months ago based on an estimated $900 million drop in revenue from the prior year. Last month, a group of state economists predicted that state revenue is off pace by about $456 million this year.

Now all options - from boosting the state's tax on cigarettes to severe funding cuts - appear to be on the table.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-11-30-08 1146EST

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