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Lawmakers Reach Budget Compromise

Alexey Stiop, 123rf Stock Photo

State lawmakers have come to an agreement on a budget that makes nearly across the board spending cuts, enacts performance funding for higher education and puts more money into the state pension systems.

The spending plan has most of the priorities Governor Bevin laid out in his budget address in January: 9 percent spending cuts and a “permanent fund” to save money for the pension systems.

Lawmakers wouldn’t say how much would be put into to the permanent fund, but said it would be “codified” as a receptacle for surplus money and windfalls from legal settlements.

Higher education will be partially shielded from the cuts—state universities and community colleges will be cut by 4.5 percent over the next two years instead of the governor’s proposed 9 percent.

State colleges and universities will also compete with each other for a portion of their funding, another one of the governor’s priorities.

The compromise budget will set aside about $25 million for a free community college tuition program to Kentucky high school graduates who maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.

Lawmakers won’t be able override any line-item vetoes Governor Matt Bevin makes to the budget. House Speaker Greg Stumbo said it was the governor’s prerogative to veto what he sees fit, but asked him not to.

“I would hope he would bear in mind that it took a great deal of effort for us to get here given how far we were apart, both monetarily and philosophically,”

The final document is expected to be approved by both legislative chambers on Friday, the last day of the General Assembly.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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