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Ky. Senate Passes Budget

By Stu Johnson, Tony McVeigh

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- – The Kentucky Senate has approved a $17.5 billion budget plan that is vastly different from the budget approved in the House.

The Senate budget eliminates hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing for school and water projects. It cuts funding for public schools but restores two instructional days that were eliminated by the House plan. Medicaid funding is also reduced.

Senate President David Williams calls the proposal a solid spending plan.

"I don't think that there is any state in the union that would not trade places with the commonwealth of Kentucky as far as our budget and the level of services we have been able to sustain madam president without increasing taxes."

But the Senate version of the budget is getting a lukewarm response from House Speaker Greg Stumbo. He is particularly unhappy with the Senate's decision to eliminate the bonded school and water projects, which Stumbo says will put people to work.

"I'm hopeful as we work through the budget negotiation process that we'll be able to convince our counterparts in the Senate that the creation of jobs that we created in our budget - these 25,000 jobs for Kentucky's working families - are necessary. So, that's how we'll begin our negotiations."

House and Senate leaders now must meet in conference committee to try to iron out their differences. Only six days remain before the 2010 session takes a 10-day recess so Gov. Beshear can consider possible vetoes. After that, the session resumes for two final days in mid-April.