Speaker Richards Hoping for "Good Spirit" During Budget Summit

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Kentucky's Speaker of the House says he and his Democratic colleagues will head to Frankfort on Tuesday with "a good spirit" and intent on reaching a budget compromise.

Speaker Jody Richards (D-Bowling Green) and select House Committee chairmen will meet with Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher on Tuesday morning to discuss Kentucky's lack of a state budget plan.

With the end of the fiscal year now less than two months away (June 30), both sides of the aisle say they are feeling pressure from their constituents to put aside differences and hammer out a budget deal that would begin on July 1. Both sides say they realize the serious negative consequences that a budget-less fiscal year could have on school systems, universities, and bond-funded projects like the proposed widening of I-65 in Warren and Simpson counties.

A key stumbling block has been the Governor's tax reform plan which Gov. Fletcher says is essential for fueling the state's economy and future budgets, but Speaker Richards says only the corporate tax portions of the plan should be passed now, while proposals like a 26cent increase in the cigarette tax should wait for next session.

Governor Fletcher says he will call a special session of the General Assembly to pass a budget compromise only if the details have been hammered out ahead of time.

Tuesday's meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 CST, to be followed by a press conference.