Beshear Seeks Budget Shortfall Plan Support

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear turned to Kentucky business leaders Friday, asking for help in mustering support for
his plan to offset the state's gaping budget hole.

Beshear spoke to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce during a Friday afternoon luncheon where he outlined his proposal to offset a large projected budget shortfall.

Beshear, a Democrat, has proposed cuts in government services and a 70-cent increase in the state cigarette tax.

"I need your help," Beshear told the group. "We've got to deliver the message that it is the acceptable thing to do, that it is a good way for us to raise revenue that we sorely need if we are going to maintain our priorities."

Kentucky's current projected shortfall between now and June 30 is estimated at $456.1 million. Beshear has proposed offsetting the budget hole by increasing the state's tax cigarette tax to $1 per pack, doubling taxes on other tobacco and slashing most government
agency budgets by 4 percent.

Top officials in Beshear's administration have said the proposed cuts would lead to a leaner government work force - either through
layoffs or attrition. Other ramifications include Kentucky mine inspectors likely not meeting next year's legally required six mine inspections per mine.

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

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