House approves state budget after more than two hours of debate

Posted at 9:25 AM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 09:25:47-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky House of Representatives voted 74-23 to approve a state budget bill Monday night after more than two hours of discussion.

The budget will now make its way to Governor Beshear's desk.

Republican leaders characterized it as a continuation budget, intended to put the commonwealth in a good position amid the uncertainty that remains because of the pandemic.

With millions included for the state's rainy day fund, This budget gives Kentucky about 29 days of reserve funding, according to Rep. Jason Petrie, Chair of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

"When we have federal money coming down and it's a deluge at this point into education and all other aspects over here last year, if we're not careful with our smaller portions of state funds, one, we won't be ready for the big events that are coming even over the next twelve months that I've already spoken to and number two, we best be careful or we'll be creating runoff ourselves and waste it. The Kentucky taxpayer money," Petrie said on the House floor.

But some democrats raised concerns over what they viewed as a lack of spending on public education and assistance for Kentuckians struggling because of the pandemic.

"When your kids are hungry you don't put money into savings instead of buying groceries. And here we are putting money in the rainy day fund when Kentuckians are hungry," said Fayette County Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson.

The bill does not include the more than $2 billion headed to Kentucky as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, approved by Congress last week.