Governor Beshear Holds Town Hall Meeting

By: Peter O'Connor Email
By: Peter O'Connor Email

Governor Beshear is traveling across the state to get feedback about how to deal with a nearly 500 million dollar budget deficit.

Hundreds of people listened to the governor's ideas at The Forum in Hazard and there was mixed reaction.

The demand for coal is keeping prices up and Governor Beshear says the state has received around 17 million dollars more in coal severance tax money than expected.

The governor says he wants to use that money to help balance the budget, but not everyone agrees.

Several coal miners were among those who packed the Hal Rogers Center in Hazard to hear how the Governor plans to balance the states budget.

Governor Beshear says Education, Public Safety, and Healthcare are areas where he hopes to minimize any more cuts.

To help make up the 456 Million dollar budget deficit the Governor is proposing a 70 cent tax increase on cigarettes and dipping into rainy day funds.

“We are looking for money anywhere and everywhere and there is a possibility that some excess coal severance money might be used to do that and I know people got a lot of concerns about that,” Governor Beshear said.

Those concerns were voiced loud and clear.

The Governors proposal can not move forward without the general assembly and state senator Brandon Smith says he is not confident the general assembly will go along with the plan.

“We want to help. We want to participate. But we want have some level of say about where this money goes and to make sure we are not forgotten about and wind up at the bottom of that stack,” Senator Brandon Smith said.

The coal miners also talked about the need to speed up the approval of Hollow Fill permits.

The governor told the crowd the permits were not intentionally being held up they are just working with less staff.

Governor Beshear is expected to be in Corbin Thursday morning to participate in the annual empty stocking fund event.

Around 650 children are expected to attend.

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