KENTUCKY – This week on “In Focus Kentucky,” we bring you discussions in state government on the 2-year state budget and how lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are advocating for the need to maximize the impact of every dollar invested.
State Rep. and Chairman of Appropriations and Revenue, Republican Jason Petrie of Logan, Todd, and Warren Counties, joins this segment to share how his Budget Committee and other House members planned, prepared , debated and ultimately settled their 2-year budget spending plan for the Commonwealth.
“I’m in a lucky position with our caucus members and other chairs. I’ll come across something in the budget and you’ll see two or three areas, I can go talk to a chair of a substantive committee, or to a few members that I know we’re interested in and say Hey I want to make sure you’re aware of this or maybe possibilities or opportunities but to put these two or three things together, and we had good good results with that, so it’s, it’s very rewarding,” says Rep. Petrie
Kentucky’s Republican-led House passed its version of a new two-year state budget in mid-January approving higher education spending and a pay raise for state employees .
The budget bill was put on an unprecedented fast track, eliminating a committee and the entire House in the first month of the 60-day legislative session. GOP leaders have indicated they want to focus on changing the state’s tax system, as well as capitalizing huge revenue surpluses.
“The product, as we’ve said before, is sort of the culmination of about eight months of work. Now, I wouldn’t say the intent to have a budget was for an eight month period. But the issues themselves, we worked for just eight full months until the interim. Our budget review subcommittee chairs and these committees dove deep and wide on specific issues. We have met with many stakeholders, many members in the chambers, making sure we are on the ground all the issues and investigating what needs to be and understanding of the budget cycle There are some perennial issues that keep coming up, we have so did a good analysis of those as well, somewhere around the first or second week of September and then we transitioned from getting ready for the issues session to okay we’ll have to budget and we attack Troubleshoot ourselves early on to make sure we have good control and a good product by the end of the session,” says Rep. Petrie.
The House GOP plan would increase per-student funding under SEEK, the state’s main funding formula for K-12 schools. The amount would increase to $4,100 in the first fiscal year and $4,200 in the second. The current amount is $4,000. He asks the state to continue to cover the full cost of full-day kindergarten.
The House budget would provide funds to hire an additional 100 social workers each year of the two-year budget cycle to help overcome a labor shortage. And he’s proposing a $15,000 pay raise for state police troopers and motor vehicle inspectors and an $8,000 raise for dispatch carriers.
And the House measure also includes an additional $350 million in federal pandemic assistance to help local government upgrade water infrastructure.
Several weeks after the House passed its budget, Senate Republicans laid out their spending priorities in their own budget proposal, leaving more than $1 billion on the table for potential tax cuts.
Lawmakers must finalize a budget by April 14, though the measure is likely to pass before the veto period begins in late March.
You can watch the full In Focus segment above.