Bevin calls for 9 percent spending cuts in first budget proposal

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Gov. Matt Bevin's first budget will not take effect until July 1, but Kentucky's new Republican governor is not waiting to slash government spending.

"When you're in financial trouble, when you're in debt, you stop digging. You don't borrow more money," Bevin said in his address before a joint session Tuesday night. "There will be discussions about that, but I'll tell you right now, I will not sign any bill, I will not sign any budget, that encumbers future generations with debt that we refuse to take responsibility for today. We will not do it."

Bevin said Tuesday he is immediately cutting 4.5 percent from the current budget enacted by former Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, $117 million worth of cuts he says do not require legislative approval.

The cuts continue over the next two years. For every dollar state agencies received this year, they will get 91 cents in 2017 and 2018.

But Bevin's cuts are not across the board. He's protecting spending for K-12 public education, programs for military veterans, health insurance for the poor and disabled and drug treatment programs. He wants to spend $21.7 million to give raises to state troopers, corrections officers and entry level social workers and clinicians.

The proposal also includes more than $1 billion in new money for the pension system for state workers and teachers over the next two years.

It also includes $60 million in bond funding for the Lexington Center.

Bevin said the spending cuts could include state employee layoffs, but he's leaving that up to his cabinet secretaries.

Nan Plummer, LexArts President & CEO, said LexArts has scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday.

"The Creative Industries - nonprofit and for profit arts - are a sector of employment somewhere between logistics and IT in size," Plummer said. "It's really a very significant part of our state's economy and to lose one of its primary drivers and one of its primary advocates would be disastrous."

During his address Bevin said "we must invest in education, we must invest in infrastructure."

He went on to explain that a vast majority of the dollar is being exempted.

He also urged the public to hold lawmakers accountable.

"This is your money," he said. "We need to spend it like it's your money."

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