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Organizations and lawmakers react to Beshear's budget proposal

Pension Bill In Limbo As Final Day Of Legislative Session Begins
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 19:53:21-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Governor Andy Beshear's budget proposal is out, but it's up to a Republican controlled legislature to pass it.

Beshear calls to fully fund the pension system, proposes no general fund spending cuts, and is looking for new ways to raise revenue.

"Sports betting, a small cigarette tax hike, a new tax on vaping, and increasing the minimum of the limited liability entity tax to adjust for inflation based on its passage in 2007," said Gov. Beshear.

House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers have expressed their own concerns, not just about being left in the dark about the budget details, but about the business tax.

"A little bit disconcerting that we heard that he's going to propose an increase on every single job creator in Kentucky," said Rep. Osborne (R).

Stivers argued that policies of the last four years generated economic growth, and this tax could hinder business.

"So you don't want to create economic policy, either spending policies that in any way deter that," said Sen. Stivers (R).

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce also disagreed with that specific tax proposal.

But President and CEO Ashli Watts says she commends Beshear on his commitment to education,and finding additional money in sports wagering along with a new vape tax.

"We would like to see a 50-cent increase in the cigarette tax which would bring in much needed revenue, and also curb the smoking epidemic in our state," said Watts.

Jason Bailey with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy thought the proposals were a good start, but that it's not enough. Currently, the state's rainy day fund ranks as the 46th lowest in the country, and Bailey worries about Kentucky's standing if another economic downturn hits.

"You look at the average state and they have three times more than we have. So we're not well-prepared. We're not well-prepared for the recession, but to get there, it would require coming up with some more money somwhere," said Bailey.

There's a lot to deliberate over during the legislative session. Ultimately, as Stivers and Osborne reminded reporters on Tuesday night, they have the final say on the budget.