FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky could be facing a budget
shortfall of more than $1.5 billion over the next two years because
of the economic recession, Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday.
"We face a challenge much greater than many had anticipated,"
Beshear said at a Capitol news conference. "Obviously, this is
going to require, more than ever before, a cooperative, bipartisan
working relationship between the legislature and the governor's
office if we are going to continue to move this state forward."
The Democratic governor didn't rule out the possibility of
furloughs or layoffs among the state's nearly 34,000 employees.
Senate President David Williams said he believes personnel cuts
will be necessary to deal with the shortfall, though he differed
with the governor on the amount of the budget gap. Williams said he
considers the shortfall, which he estimated at $900 million,
"manageable" and vowed to work with the governor to resolve it.
"We will consider any measure the governor brings forth in good
faith," Williams said.
Beshear said he would do "all that is humanly possible" to
spare education from sharp cuts at a time when rising Medicaid
costs and debt payments for construction projects are eating away
at state revenues.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)