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Ky. Legislators Work On Budget Shortfall

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The pledges from all sides of bipartisan cooperation held up through last week's initial round of legislative committee hearings on the state's projected $456 million revenue shortfall, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal in its Monday edition.

But progress toward agreement on the tough decisions, particularly whether to accept Gov. Steve Beshear's proposal to raise the cigarette tax from 30 cents per pack to $1, appears to remain distant.

Last week, secretaries of the administration's major cabinets reported to House and Senate budget committees the impact that three rounds of spending cuts had on most programs in the past year and the pain that will result from further cuts to account for the shortfall.

"These cabinet secretaries have done a good job of preserving basic services while achieving efficiencies in areas," said Senate Republican leader Dan Kelly of Springfield. "We need to take this information now and understand what it means -- not for just this fiscal year, but next fiscal year."

Rep. Rick Rand, the Bedford Democrat and new chairman of the House budget committee, said, "We're moving in the right direction. But we've obviously got a lot of work to do."

The downturn in the national economy prompted the projection of the 5.1 percent shortfall in meeting budgeted spending levels for the fiscal year that ends June 30, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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