New Constitutional Officers Address Budget Cuts

Frankfort, KY – Kentucky's newest constitutional officers are fearing the results of the latest proposed budget cuts.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Auditor Adam Edelen and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer all testified before a budget subcommittee today. All three are facing 8.4% budget cuts. Grimes and Comer asked the committee to reconsider cuts to their offices to prevent any disruption of public services.

But Edelen took a different route in his testimony. Instead of asking for more money, Edelen said his office will make due with its cuts.

"The auditor's office will do what it always does and we will continue to lead by example," he said. "Certainly we don't want to see a further retreat beyond the eight and a half percent cut that's been laid on us. But with that said we will act like the Marines. We will simply improvise and overcome and achieve. Because the people of Kentucky need and deserve that."

Edelen added that in tough economic times, corruption and misuse of tax dollars are usually more common than they are in good times.

Grimes told the subcommittee today that in order to run her office effectively she will need to drain $3.5 million from her office's restricted account, which holds business and election filing fees, as well as other revenues. Under Governor Steve Beshear's proposed budget, one million dollars from the fund would go to other offices. Grimes says in order to prevent a large disruption in services, she'll need all of the restricted funds to offset the 8.4 percent cuts.

"The Secretary of State respectfully requests that the budget subcommittee increase our restrictive funds spending authority, so that we have access to the revenue that we are generating," she said. "This is consistent with the General Assembly's discretion that these funds be used to operate this office."

Taking from the account isn't uncommon. But with more than 20 percent cuts in the Secretary of State's office, Grimes said she needs all of the money.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer also requested more money from the subcommittee. He said if something isn't changed with department's budget, it's likely that either a cut in programs or employee layoffs will occur.