Beshear Defends Diverting Coal Tax Revenue

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear says it is appropriate to divert millions of dollars in coal severance tax money away from the state's coal-producing counties to help with a $456 million budget shortfall.

But Beshear said during a news conference Friday that he was "open" to discussing the issue with state legislators.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported part of Beshear's plan for balancing the state budget is to use about $17.5 million from the coal severance tax. But House Speaker Jody Richards, a Bowling Green Democrat, says that's unfair to coal counties in rural eastern and western Kentucky that have come to rely on that money as a major source of revenue.

The governor says the coal tax proceeds are not already appropriated, and it is appropriate to use them in what he calls "these extraordinary circumstances."

Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,

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

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