FRANKFORT, KY (KFVS) - Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin delivered the State of the Commonwealth and Budget Address on Tuesday night, January 16.
Gov. Bevin's 2018-19 budget proposal calls for spending reductions in almost all areas of state government, including an across-the-board cut of 6.25-percent to most agencies.
"Kentucky has just completed a truly transformative year of achievement, where many important seeds of progress were sown," said Gov. Bevin. "However, the truth remains that after decades of poor financial management, the Commonwealth faces some harsh realities. These realities, coupled with modest projected revenue growth, mean that Kentucky must make tough and unpopular decisions."
According to the governor's office, to maintain the effectiveness of priority programs, it proposes significant yet strategic cuts and the complete elimination of 70 programs.
Under the plan, borrowing will be held to historically low levels, with debt service requirements under 5.63 percent of revenue, as opposed to the 2006-2016 average of 6.58 percent.
- style="color:black;margin-bottom:5.25pt;line-height:140%;">$3.31 billion over the biennium to fully fund state employee and teacher pension plans for the first time in nearly two decades;
- style="color:black;margin-bottom:5.25pt;line-height:140%;">$100 million in bond pool funding for a second round of workforce skills training;
- style="color:black;margin-bottom:5.25pt;line-height:140%;">$34 million in new funding from tobacco settlement funds to fight the opioid epidemic and substance abuse;
- style="color:black;margin-bottom:5.25pt;line-height:140%;">$24 million to add positions and increase salaries for Kentucky’s social workers so we can better protect Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens;
- style="color:black;margin-bottom:5.25pt;line-height:140%;">$10.8 million in new funding for adoption and foster children supports; and
- style="color:black;margin-bottom:5.25pt;line-height:140%;">funding for 75 new commonwealth and county attorneys and 51 new public advocates to strengthen the criminal justice system.
For K-12 education, it maintains the current $3,981 per student Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) allocation. Statewide reserve funds total over $950 million. Bevin called on districts to utilize some of their reserve funds for transportation.
The Governor's budget also dedicates 100 percent of lottery funds to education.
The budget will return an additional $7.7 million of coal severance funds directly back to coal counties.
Gov. Bevin emphasized that he is calling for genuine tax reform that will make Kentucky more competitive with its neighboring states — not merely a bump in the sales tax or an increase in the cigarette tax, both of which have been proposed.