A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New two-year budget ends short shutdown and includes tax-relief for Berea College

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The Rural Blog

President Trump signed a two-year budget package today, ending the second government shutdown of 2018, albeit a short one of about eight hours. Congress passed the measure after a delay forced by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who protested that it was fiscally irresponsible. “When Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party,” Paul said during the debate. He called the package “a bipartisan looting of the treasury,'” Lisa Mascaro reports for the Los Angeles Times.

USA Today calls the package a “whopping … basket of goodies,” such as $1 billion for dairy and cotton producers, lower prescription-drug costs for seniors, higher premiums for wealthy Medicare patients, and $6 billion for the opioid epidemic. It includes $20 billion for infrastructure initiatives, some of which will go to broadband build-outs, John Eggerton reports for Broadcasting and Cable.

The bill also includes almost $90 billion in disaster relief for areas hurt by last year’s hurricanes and wildfires, funds community health centers and extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program for an extra four years, beyond the six years recently approved.

“The package included a new tax credit for carbon-capture projects with support from across the ideological spectrum in the Senate,” Dino Grandoni reports for The Washington Post.

A “diverse group” of senators helped get it through, said Democratic North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, “who has at least three carbon-capture projects in her state.”

She also “said the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, representing coal-country Kentucky, had been a co-sponsor on the legislation ‘absolutely helped’.”

McConnell had at least two goodies for Kentucky. The bill will exempt private Berea College from a provision of last year’s tax-reform bill that would have hurt its bottom line, Eliza Collins and Maureen Groppe report for USA Today.

He also inserted an exemption for the state’s Southeast Community and Technical College, which was in danger of being disqualified for federal student loans because of a high default rate.

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