Gov. Beshear talks with WKYT about proposed budget plan

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Keep education first, that’s Governor Andy Beshear’s message to lawmakers as they begin to craft their own versions of a $23 billion, 2-year spending plan.

Wednesday, the governor sat down with our Phil Pendleton to talk about his priorities and reaction to lawmakers' early comments about the budget.

Governor Beshear says, in every metric, what he proposed is a more responsible and balanced spending plan than other recent budgets passed.

“For the first time in 14 years, we won’t have to make any more painful cuts to services people desperately need,” Governor Beshear said.

Lawmakers have said they like some of the budget, such as funding pensions, but question other aspects. Such as using tobacco taxes or sports betting, items yet to be approved, to raise some revenue.

“In this, about every one of the proposals we made, came from a bill filed in the Republican majority,” Governor Beshear said.

Including sports betting, by Republican Adam Koenig. It hasn’t been approved yet but Beshear believes it will.

Gov. Beshear and Rep. Koenig will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon to talk about the sports betting bill.

“It’s more than time for sports betting," Governor Beshear said. "And when we do it, we regulate this activity. We make sure people don’t go too far.”

He says he knows the House and Senate will make changes, but he says it needs to stay focused on education.

“When we look at working to be better than we are right now, getting out of being ranked 40th in this or that, the key is public education.”

Beshear says his budget is focused on education but says there will be news soon regarding economic development.

“We are the 3rd poorest state in terms of capita income," Governor Beshear said. "You want to know about the states with the highest per capita income? The highest educated states, too.”

Some lawmakers have questioned why his budget does not include more across the board raises. Governor Beshear says he’s focused on teachers because of the critical shortage there.

Legislative leaders have already said they will likely have to form a compromise conference committee to iron out differences in the upcoming House and Senate versions of the budget.