Lawmakers reach deal on state budget

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - As the deadline to pass a budget drew near, state lawmakers finally reached a deal.

Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo and other leadership announced a budget deal had been reached just before three o'clock Thursday morning.

Legislative aides for Stivers and Stumbo said they spent the day in private meetings discussing the budget. A budget conference committee that was supposed to meet on Wednesday morning didn't come together until around 10 p.m.

The largest disagreement was originally cuts to higher education. That seems to have been resolved with both sides tentatively agreeing to a 4.5 percent cut to funding for universities and colleges.

Senator Stivers had also said they were having problems agreeing on how to spend coal severance funds and how much money to put into the state's pension system.

"We actually were able to accomplish this budget without any nasty words being hurled across the table, nor cups, nor other objects at other members," Stumbo said after they reached the agreement. "There was actually a pretty good sense of camaraderie in there and participation by all of the conferees."

Neither Stiver nor Stumbo released many details on the budget, saying they wanted to brief their own caucuses on the resolution first.

What they did release:

  • There will be 4.5 percent in cuts to universities over the next two years.

  • Kentucky State University will be exempted from the cuts, so they "have a way forward," Stumbo said.

  • The budget will provide more than $1 billion in funding to pension programs. This is higher than pensions have ever been funded.

  • Kentucky State Police will get higher salaries.

  • Public funding to Planned Parenthood was not cut.

Stumbo said, "It is an adequate and effective blend, I believe, of the priorities contained in both the governor's recommendation, the House budget and the Senate budget."

While the legislative session doesn't end until Friday, lawmakers needed to reach an agreement before then. That's because it takes around 30 hours to print off a bill so it can be voted on by both chambers.

The full legislature will vote on the budget on Friday.

"I feel very confident it will pass in our chamber," Stivers said. "I won't speak for the other one."

To that Stumbo replied, "I think we'll have bipartisan support on the measure. I wouldn't think that we'd lose very many votes. It's a pretty good blend. It's a good bill."

Lawmakers will not have time to override any vetoes handed down by Governor Matt Bevin.

The Governor's Office released the following statement on the budget compromise:

“We thank Senate President Stivers, House Speaker Stumbo and the members of the conference committee for the hard work that was put into this budget agreement. For the first time in decades, we can say that Kentucky is investing in our pension system in a meaningful way. We look forward to reviewing the details of the compromise and its final passage.”

Stivers said that he is not going to make any recommendations to the Governor on whether or not to veto items.

"That's his job," Stivers said. "That's the executive branch function that he is guaranteed by the constitution."

Stumbo said he agrees that it is the Governor's prerogative, but that he hopes the Governor keeps in mind how much the two parties had to compromise.

"It took a great deal of effort for us to get here giving how far we were apart both monetarily and philosophically," Stumbo said. "I would be surprised if he has a lot of objections to what's contained there, but who knows."

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