Lawmakers have a difficult task once they start considering a 2 year spending plan...and for the first time in recent memory, the main formula for funding the Kentucky classroom could suffer.
“It’s going to be more and more difficult to save SEEK from any cuts,” said Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, the chairman of the House Budget committee.
Rand doesn’t expect layoffs, but no one should expect a bigger paycheck.
“I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to do any raises this time. A tough two year budget..no question about it, likelihood of raises is slim,” said Rand.
Blame the recession one, and although some argue that is over, Kentucky no longer has the stimulus money it received from the federal government.
“That funding ended. And we have not seen a complete recovery in state tax revenue,” said Ken Trosken, with the UK Center for Business and Economic Research.
State agencies have been no stranger to cuts. According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, most are doing more with less.
The Kentucky Arts Council cut their budgets by 29%.
Public health has dealt with cuts of 19%.
State Police trimmed their spending by 20%.
And while the classroom has been spared for the most part, educators did trim some of their spending by 24% in other areas.
Employment is growing but it could be several more years before the current economic climate improves to more comfortable levels.
“So given that, yeah, we are out of the recession, but we just haven’t returned to what we saw in the mid 90’s of very low unemployment and very rapid growth,” said Trosken.
If there is any good news, state revenues are up slightly. The Consensus Forecasting Group did predict modest growth, but it won't be enough to pay for all the services Kentucky now provides.