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Beshear reacts to lawmakers' budget bill, proposes historic investments in education

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Posted at 5:23 PM, Jan 10, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Monday, Governor Andy Beshear criticized Kentucky House Republicans for filing their budget bill before he got the chance to present his budget proposal.

"Drafting and filing an executive branch budget, without the knowledge or input of the executive branch itself, is unprecedented, it's unprovoked, it's unprofessional, unwise, and perhaps even unlawful," said Beshear.

The governor is set to unveil his budget proposal on Thursday. Typically, lawmakers wait for the speech before they move forward with budget bills. But this year, Kentucky House Republicans filed their bill last Friday.

On Saturday, House Speaker David Osborne suggested that waiting on the governor's proposal would be a waste of time.

"The governor's recommendations are exactly that - they're recommendations. We will absolutely 100% consider his recommendations throughout the process," said Osborne. "But I think to wait intentionally - to ignore months of interim work, months of committee work, months of budget review subcommittee work - is quite frankly, a waste of time."

However, Beshear suggests the move is breaking the law.

"Under state law, if they keep pushing forward the one filed before the executive branch or the judicial branch, they violated their own statutes," said Beshear.

The governor referenced two statutes to suggest that House republicans are breaking budget process laws:

  • 48.100 - "A branch budget recommendation shall be submitted to the General Assembly by the Governor for the executive branch, the Chief Justice for the judicial branch, and the Legislative Research Commission for the legislative branch."
  • 48.300 - "The financial plan for each fiscal year as presented in the branch budget recommendation shall be adopted, with any modifications made by the General Assembly..."

"My hope is that it was a stunt, maybe meant to take some steam out of the speech that's coming up on Thursday and that they're not breaking with both tradition and the law," said Beshear.

Beshear then encouraged Kentuckians to look past the drama and focus on the bigger picture: Kentucky's opportunity to invest in its future.

On Monday, Beshear revealed the education part of his budget proposal. He calls his proposed investments "game-changing" and state-changing."

"My budget adds record funding - nearly two billion dollars in additional funding, over the next biennium, Pre-K through 12th grade," said Beshear.

The governor's budget provides $915 million in the fiscal year 2023 and $983 million in the fiscal year 2024.

Overall, the governor's plan raises the K-12 per-pupil SEEK formula from $4,000 to $4,500, provides Pre-K to all Kentucky children, covers local districts' transportation costs, gives 5% raises to all public school personnel, creates a student loan forgiveness program for teachers, and increases funds for public colleges and universities.

Here are more details on the governor's proposal:

Public pre-K through high school

  • Increases per-pupil SEEK formula from $4,000 to $4,300 in the next fiscal year and $4,500 the following year. It's a 12.5% increase that provides an additional $159.7 million and $237.3 million in those years over the current budget.
  • Adds $175 million per year for local districts to fully cover transportation costs.
  • Funds full-day kindergarten and provides $172 million each year for universal Pre-K. The Department of Education estimated 34,000 four-year-olds are currently not enrolled in public preschool or Head Start.
  • Fully funds teachers' pension and medical benefits.
  • Calls for a minimum five percent salary increase for all school personnel, in addition to the regular rank and step salary schedule increases for certified staff. According to Beshear, this is the first identified pay increase in a state budget since the 2006-08 budget.
  • Provides $26.3 million each year for a student loan forgiveness program for at least 4,700 teachers. Teachers would be able to get a maximum of $3,000 per year for each year of employment of a public school teacher. 
  • Provides $11 million for an early learning initiative to provide statewide professional learning for early literacy and numeracy.
  • Includes $97.4 million to finance the renovation of another 11 local area vocational centers.
  • An additional $8 million each year to fund 12 locally operated vocational education centers. These centers have not been part of the funding formula in the last 12 years.
  • Provides $11 million each year for textbooks/instructional resources.
  • Includes $6.2 million per year to address social-emotional learning and mental health for students and school staff.
  • Restores $4.6 million in funding for the KY Education Technology system, which funds technology, sets standards, and provides technical services for public schools. This amount restores previous cuts and accounts for inflation.
  • Provides $14.4 million each year to support 48 schools identified as Comprehensive Support and Improvement schools.
  • Adds almost $6 million in funding for Family Resource and Youth Service Centers.
  • Restores $2.5 million for grants to local libraries.

Postsecondary education

  • Adds $67.5 million and $90 million in the next two years for post-secondary educational institutions. That's nearly a 12% increase.
  • Adds $60 million in bond funds for the Bucks for Brains program. This is to be matched dollar-for-dollar with private donations.
  • Includes $500 million to pay down the debt of deferred maintenance for the state's nine postsecondary education institutions.
  • Provides $16.3 million and $27.7 million in the next two years for the Kentucky Better Promise Scholarship. This provides free tuition and aid to get an associate degree or certificate for approximately 6,000 additional people in the first year and 9,700 in the second year.
  • Increases College Access Program (CAP) awards to $3,100 in the first year and $3,300 in the second year.
  • Ensures that Kentucky's reserved spaces in out-of-state veterinary and optometry professional degree programs are intact with sufficient funding for their increased prices.