Kentucky Senate & House approve 2-year spending plan

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate and House have approved a two-year operating budget that spends an additional $1.28 billion toward the state's public pension debt.

The state Senate unanimously approved the spending plan on the final day of the legislative session. Legislative leaders worked for weeks to reach an agreement after initial talks stalled and it appeared the state could be heading to a special session or a shutdown of state government services.

The House approved the budget Friday night, by a 98-1 vote.

Kentucky's public pension debt is estimated at more than $30 billion, making it one of the worst funded systems in the nation. The spending plan also sets aside $125 million in a "permanent fund" that cannot be spent on the pension system until after the completion of a state audit.

The spending plan includes raises for state troopers and spending cuts of 4.5 percent for colleges and universities.

The budget proposal now heads to Governor Bevin's desk.

In a statement Friday night, Bevin said, "This budget sends a strong signal to the financial and business communities that we take our financial obligations seriously. I look forward to reviewing the details of the final bill over the coming days and signing a fiscally responsible budget into law.”

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