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Lawmakers tangle over education spending, process as House budget advances to the Senate

LRC Public Information

Following lengthy floor discussion, Q&A, and failed Democratic attempts to amend the spending plan, the GOP-led House voted through its first draft of the budget.

Lexington Democrat Chad Aull echoed colleagues on his side of the aisle in questioning whether the product would be sufficient to make Kentucky competitive on teacher pay -- a top priority of the Beshear administration.

"This budget's failure to keep up with such competitive measures in other states places our education system at a risk of losing valuable talent and expertise, which would result in an even worsening teacher shortage," the representative said/

Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chair Jason Petrie argued increases directed toward school transportation, school resource officers, and other education asks amounts to a significant investment.

"Just the increase under House Bill 6 on these items, and there are others... $1.356 billion dollars," Petrie said. "This is one of our primary areas of budget concern by General Fund and what we appropriate federally. It is well-supported."

Republicans argue the best strategy right now is to increase per-pupil funding and encourage districts to provide teacher raises. Democrats argue districts will still fall short.

The debate represents a relatively early step in a long budgeting process, which will head to the Senate next — with a final version being hammered out by a conference committee composed of House and Senate leaders.

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.