The Kentucky House will begin work to break down Governor Beshear’s budget this week. Budget Committee Chair Rick Rand says some subcommittees may begin their review in the next few days. The governor’s spending plan includes a two and a half percent cut in funding for higher education. Chairman Rand admits that proposal has already generated some discussion.
“I think just talking to members and what their concerns are. I mean they’re concerned about higher education and the cuts they’re taking. That’s one thing I’ve heard from our members, so we’ll probably be taking a look at that,” said Rand.
The amount of debt outlined in the governor's plan is the main concern for House Minority Caucus Chair Bob DeWeece. Louisville Representative Kevin Bratcher agrees, saying the proposed borrowing is troubling him.
“But, I just think throwing ten percent of your budget into a bonding situation, more debt is not a great way to go, and it needs to be looked at,” said Bratcher.
While Governor Beshear unveiled his budget proposal last week, he has also indicated a desire to initiate tax reform during this year's session of the General Assembly. Whether lawmakers act on any significant change in taxes is another matter. Rick Rand believes the door may be open to consider some tax modification.
“There’s a possibility that there could be tax reform and not necessarily comprehensive tax reform, but we did it with pensions and something like that could occur again where we put together a package that will fill some holes in our budget,” added Rand.
With legislative elections on the ballot this November, any change in tax policy is considered a risky proposition. Representative Bratcher worries the session will come and go without action on taxes.
“It’s just probably not a good time. There’s just not a lot of will to do it as this time. I wish there were. I think a lot of people wish there were, that this would be the time to look at tax reform, because the state needs it,” added Bratcher.
The governor has not yet given his blessing to a tax reform bill for consideration in this year’s legislative session.