Kentucky state lawmakers have begun reviewing Governor Steve Beshear’s $20 billion budget proposal.
State Budget Director Jane Driskell briefed lawmakers on the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday on aspects of the budget. It includes a 5% cut for most state agencies, and includes the state's highest ever ratio of money being borrowed to money coming in.
Louisville Representative Jim Wayne isn't entirely pleased with the plan. He questions a provision that effectively takes money from licensing agencies in order to fund priorities in the budget.
From barbers to doctors, blue and white-collar professionals in Kentucky must pay licensure fees in order to practice their given trade. Those fees then go back into funding and staffing the licensing board.
“They should be immune from the General Fund," said Wayne. "And what the governor’s done is, at the end of the year when there’s a surplus in any of those funds, he’s gone in and basically vacuumed out all that money and put it over here in the General Fund because we don’t have enough recurring revenue coming in over here to sustain the budget. So he’s basically suspending the laws prohibiting him from doing that.”
Wayne calls that robbery.
“It puts the boards and commissions in a position where they have to raise the rates on people who are being regulated by their boards and commissions. So, if they don’t have the money to sustain them because it’s been robbed by the governor, they have to go back and then tax, in essence.”
Wayne says the practice has become so commonplace, it’s become a “new normal.”
Beshear wants to transfer over $370 million from licensing boards to the General Fund.