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KY House begins work on state budget; Rep. Steve Rudy doesn’t expect Beshear budget to stay intact

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The Kentucky House is beginning work in earnest this week on a state budget for the next two years following Gov. Andy Beshear’s budget address last Tuesday.

“There are areas we can agree with and there are certainly areas we’re going to look at,” House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, told reporters on Tuesday.  “We will take those recommendations under full consideration and craft the House version of the budget over the coming weeks.”

Rep. Steve Rudy

He doesn’t expect Beshear’s proposal to make it through the legislature intact.

“There will be significant changes in the House version, as I know the Senate will probably make significant changes from the House version to the Senate version, and I fully expect we’ll end up in a free conference committee before it’s all said and done.”

Rudy says the House is committed to fully funding the state’s public pension plans.

“That’s not necessarily a change from what the Governor is recommended, but we will work from that accordingly.  As we dig down into the budget, we’ll look at it, we’ll see what we can do and what the resources that the taxpayers sent up here to Frankfort, we’ll make those decisions.”

He says House Republicans have not yet discussed Beshear’s proposal for a $2,000 pay raise for teachers. 

“I think there is a lot of interest in spreading out raises across the board to all school employees, rather than focusing on one area. I think the important thing is, though, that we fully fund the pensions first. Hopefully we’ll have enough resources afterwards to give salary enhancements, but we have to look at those things.”

When asked by reporters if he thought the Governor’s budget proposal was too optimistic, Rudy replied, “It’s optimistic but well thought out and I think we can have something to work from and hopefully find some common ground.”

While saying there is nothing in the budget that jumps out at him that he can’t live with, Rudy added, “One budget problem, as a whole, is the KentuckyWired project.  We’re going to continue to look at that and try to figure out how to do things.  It’s a growing problem and instead of getting better, so I think we’ll give a hard look at KentuckyWired.”

KentuckyWired began when Beshear’s father, Steve Beshear, established the project to bring high-speed internet to every corner of Kentucky. Since its inception, the project has been plagued by delays and cost overruns.

Rudy says he will give revenue enhancements proposed by Beshear, such as sports wagering and hiking the tobacco tax, full consideration

“The sports wagering bill has been in the Orders of the Day for quite some time, and I don’t really where we are on that and what the Senate is going to do. I continue to have conversations with Rep. Miller, [R-Louisville] on the tax on vaping products and the e-cigarette epidemic, and we will probably next week take a closer look at that bill.”

House leadership says they still hope to have the budget bill in the Senate’s hands by early next month.

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