Ky. budget cutters look at contracts, management

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - House leaders are scrutinizing government
contracts and political appointees in state government's upper
management as they try to cut spending in response to a massive
revenue shortfall, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Wednesday.
Stumbo has said lawmakers expect shortfalls of about $400
million in the first year and about $750 million in the second year
of the next two-year budget cycle. The House leaders are weighing
several options.
Stumbo told reporters Wednesday that personal service contracts
and non-merit appointees in upper management are coming under
serious review.
"I don't think the people of Kentucky would miss a few less
assistant directors or deputy directors" of state agencies, Stumbo
Gov. Steve Beshear last month proposed a two-year state budget
that assumed $780 million in revenue from legalizing video slot
machines at Kentucky race tracks.
The gaming proposal has appeared to be a nonstarter with
Asked about Stumbo's remarks, Beshear spokeswoman Kerri
Richardson said, "We see no reason to comment on any budget
scenarios that aren't final."
She said the governor remained confident that his budget plan
"offers the most responsible options for our limited dollars."
The budget writing process is especially daunting because the
state general fund has been walloped by the deep recession.
House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand
said Tuesday that nothing is safe from possible cuts. He said
funding for elementary and secondary public schools would likely be
the "very last place" lawmakers would look for reductions.
Stumbo said lawmakers wouldn't seek to micromanage the
governor's decisions on appointees or government contracts. He
suggested the budget plan being developed by House leaders might
set targets specifying the depth of job cuts and how much money
would likely be saved.
He said furloughs of state workers are not in the mix as a
cost-cutting option.
"It's not fair, particularly to the lower-paid state employees
who are like every other family: They're having trouble making
their payments," Stumbo said.
But personal service contracts are coming under increased
scrutiny, he said.
Stumbo said he thinks those contracts are "a big cost total,"
but said he didn't know how much savings could be achieved. He said
the governor included savings from those contracts in his budget
plan, and said House leaders are "going to see if we can go
farther than that."
"We don't want to set a target that's unrealistic," he said.
Richardson said a review of those contracts will be part of a
government efficiency initiative announced by Beshear. The review
will delve into agencies across state government.
Stumbo said House leaders hope to review various budget options
late this week and may present them to rank-and-file members next

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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