Kentucky lawmakers begin budget process

The Kentucky House on Monday approved a proposed one-year state budget and other spending plans that symbolically kicked off the budget season.

Besides the executive budget, the House committee also approved the transportation budget, the legislative branch budget and the judicial branch budget.

Monday’s vote was largely procedural, just a way to get the process moving so that lawmakers can work on the approximately $12 billion state budget in a conference committee sooner rather than later, said Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

“What we’re doing today … is not a completed statement of what our priorities are regarding the judicial budget or any other budget being considered,” Petrie said in a release.

Usually, state lawmakers pass budgets in even-numbered years when the legislature meets for 60 days. But the economic uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic led lawmakers to pass a one-year budget in the spring of 2020. This lets the General Assembly pass a one-year spending plan during this year’s 30-day legislative session.

Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear addressed a joint session of the General Assembly and urged the legislature to pass a budget that provides millions of dollars in economic relief to small businesses and nonprofits, expanded broadband and provide more aid for education.

The state’s Consensus Forecasting Group has predicted the Bluegrass State will see a small increase in revenue of around $53 million over the year. Some economists predict Kentucky’s budget will not be as hurt by the pandemic as originally thought, in part due to federal COVID-19 relief.

“Revenue projections are slippery things,” he added. “You have to consider what it’s being compared to, whether it was anomaly or whether it is normal course.”

The budget bills approved by the House will now go to the Senate for consideration.

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