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Ky. lawmakers weigh competing budget proposals

Both Governor Andy Beshear and the Republican supermajority in the state legislature have...
Both Governor Andy Beshear and the Republican supermajority in the state legislature have released their versions of what they want the upcoming budget will look like. (WKYT)(WKYT)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:43 AM CST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Both Governor Andy Beshear and the Republican supermajority in the state legislature have released their versions of what they want the upcoming budget to look like.

Now, lawmakers are looking at both before taking the budget to the General Assembly. Wednesday morning, the governor’s budget was presented before a senate committee.

State Budget Director John Hicks went before the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Revenue to outline and pitch the governor’s budget proposal.

Hicks spent about the first 35 minutes going through the points of the budget before taking questions from lawmakers.

He took time to reiterate something that the governor focused on in the lead-up to his budget address and during his speech to the general assembly: Kentucky is a great position to invest.

“Our fiscal position is the best in 40 years and the governor’s budget takes the opportunity after the austerity in our state budgets from 2008-2019, including 19 budget cuts,” Hicks said. “We have a once in a generation opportunity to make targeted investments that will pay dividends for decades.”

Some of those targeted investments include record-setting investment in education, student loan forgiveness for teachers and nurses, across-the-board pay increases for educators and state workers and assigning general fund money to work on big infrastructure projects and investing in workforce development.

Hicks was questioned at one point if any consideration had been given to using the large surplus to offset things like tax cuts.

“A tax cut was given. The tax cut incidence of that tax cut was primarily to those who were more well off and, in some cases, the lower tax rates for lower incomes were raised 5%,” said Hicks. “In this case, the governor chose to make targeted investments that we think will pay off.”

Republican lawmakers have released their own version of the budget already and the debate over what that final budget will look like will continue. As one lawmaker said at the close of the meeting, these budget meetings are a marathon, not a sprint.

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