Lawmakers told to expect tough budget year

Kentucky has been faring better than many other states but lawmakers in the House were warned Tuesday that they should expect another tough budget year when they come back early next year.
The good news is that Kentucky has seen some of its revenues increase and there has been a drop in unemployment, but not all is rosey.
“It will be the most difficult budget that we face," State Budget Director Mary Lassiter told lawmakers who were gathered in the House chambers Tuesday.
There may be questions on where they will get the money, but the budget director says it’s definite where it won’t come from.
“The governor has said that he will not be basing a budget on expanded gaming revenues and we will not be basing a budget on broad based tax increases,” said Lassiter.
The House budget chairman says they will try to steer clear of cuts to education, public safety and health care. Lawmakers will likely receive requests to increase education funding, and add more programs.
“I know they are going to propose things like expanded preschool, all day kindergarten, college and career readiness,” said Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford.
Those wanting new money for projects or major increases could leave next year’s session unhappy.
“It will probably will be a ‘stay the course budget,’ with some new money but certainly not a lot of new money,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.
Lawmakers could get a better picture of what to expect tomorrow when the concensus forecasting group releases their report. That’s the report the Governor will use to drawup his proposed budget, that he will deliver to lawmakers in a joint session of the General Assembly on Jan. 17.

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