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Federal Aid Package Throws A Curve To Kentucky Budget Drafters

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Budget negotiations are back on in Frankfort as lawmakers craft a spending plan for the next year, but there's a new wrinkle.

Legislators laid the groundwork for the $12 billion spending plan early in the session by passing a placeholder budget that essentially continued last year's spending. Now comes the harder part -- hammering out the actual document they will deliver to Gov. Andy Beshear.

But there are a few new variables to consider. The state saw extreme flooding and winter weather that's left some communities struggling, and a massive influx of federal dollars is expected as part of the latest federal pandemic assistance bill.

Sen. David Givens is one of the lawmakers urging caution as budget drafters eye a host of new projects.

"One of the concerns we have is building out systems without recurring revenue streams. We've got to be careful and conscious about that," he told Education Commissioner Jason Glass. "But it's a great chance for us to take some new opportunities through these one-time monies, measure successes, and then come back and find ways to fund a portion of these programs in a recurring sense."

Gov. Beshear, meanwhile, is pressing the legislature to think big as the state prepares for a post-COVID economy. He's pointed to a number of areas, from broadband to clean drinking water projects, as places the state might invest.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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