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Stumbo provides broad outline of House budget plan

February 16, 2010 | | Comments 9
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg

By Beth Musgrave – bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — House leaders are poised to unveil a state budget proposal in coming days that cuts more than 250 political appointees, trims spending on private contractors, tinkers with the state health insurance program and delays some construction projects.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, also said the plan will rely on $220 million in not-yet-approved federal support for the Medicaid program.

The proposal, which Stumbo described vaguely for reporters, would eliminate a projected $400 million shortfall in the first year of the two-year state budget. Much of those savings would carry over into the second year of the budget, but lawmakers still must determine how to overcome a remaining $200 million shortfall in the second year.

“We have balanced in the first year, we have some carry forward actually and we are very, very close in the second year,” Stumbo said.

The first year of the budget, which begins July 1, does not include any cuts to the main funding formula for schools or cuts to the state Medicaid program, Stumbo said.

However, it does call for reducing the number of state workers to 2007 levels across the judicial, executive and legislative branches, Stumbo said.

Specifically, Stumbo said there are about 250 non-merit positions — political appointees — that have been added to the executive branch since 2007.

Stumbo said the reductions could likely be accomplished through attrition, but acknowledged that layoffs are possible. “It doesn’t matter how you get there, you just get there,” he said.

Full details of the plan will be made public after it has been presented to the House Democratic caucus, possibly as early as Wednesday or Thursday, Stumbo said.

However, he cautioned that details will not be released until leaders have agreed on a fix for the second year of the budget.

Gov. Steve Beshear had proposed using about $770 million from expanded gambling at racetracks to help plug a more than $1 billion shortfall in the two-year budget. However, House and Senate leaders immediately rejected the proposal, saying it wasn’t politically feasible.

Advocates for the poor and disabled have criticized the House for banking on an enhanced federal match for the state-federal Medicaid program that has not yet passed Congress, but Stumbo and Senate President David Williams have said it’s reasonable to assume that federal lawmakers will extend the spending by six months. The extra federal money is currently scheduled to expire on Dec. 31.

If the second round of stimulus does not pass, the legislature will have to return in January 2011 to put more money back into the health care program, Stumbo said.

Stumbo said he has not spoken with Beshear about the House’s proposal.

“The governor won’t speculate on proposals he has not yet seen,” said Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Beshear. “Once we see the plan to address the entire biennium, we’ll respond then.”

It’s not yet known how much any individual cuts being considered by House leaders would save the state.

In the first year of the budget, the plan would generate savings by delaying some not-yet-specified construction projects and making changes to the state health insurance program.

Stumbo said he believes the state can spend less on its health insurance program without decreasing benefits for state employees.

In the second year of the budget, lawmakers are considering cuts to private contractors who work for the state and additional changes to the health insurance program, Stumbo said.

Filed Under: Greg StumboKY General AssemblyState BudgetState Government

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  1. lightbulb says:

    Thanks for prolonging the agony. The only bright spot is that perhaps real, comprehensive tax reform may come next year because these cowards will simply have no choice. Once they get themselves re-elected, perhaps they will grow a spine.

  2. handiman says:

    More of the same from these guys. Just put a band-aid on it, and it’ll heal itself.

    Time for a total change in Frankfort, while we still have a chance.

  3. Chingo says:

    Lightbulb, I believe it is too late for spine growing with these guys. new spines must be voted in.

  4. EKU says:

    UK is a cash clunker. It is easy to cut millions from UK budget by eliminating waste. It has too many i-phones. State has too many Blackberrys. UK and state are not improving their efficiency with those expensive I-phonse and Blackberrys. Instead their productivity decline because users surf online and play games anywhere with those ‘toys’.

  5. Oscar T says:

    This bunch is always good for a chuckle. They put their political future ahead of improving this state, criticize each other and then do the exact thing they just critiqued but “differently”, and have all these “grand ideas” that usually aren’t funded.

    Williams has got to go, his short-sighted shell games with our money is going to continue to be the demise of this state.

  6. lightbulb says:

    EKU, wish it was as simple as iphones and blackberries – unfortunately that won’t do it. And as a UK employee who used my iphone for two days while homebound due to daycare closure, the wheels of work kept turning – was a blessing. There are bigger fish to fry than phone service here. If this is the only message we can send to legislators – cut phone services, no wonder they aren’t hearing us! Please, let’s focus on the bigger picture of comprehensive tax reform and holding these legislators accountable for their decisions (or lack of)! And EKU, I hope your boss lets you have a phone someday or get your own – I pay for part of my own work phone expenses.

  7. Rusty says:

    One good start would be to clean out all of Joe Myers friends at workforce cabinet-he’s really piled them on over there-may as well take joe out too–they have people on top of each other that are non merit -Wilburn, larry brannock, would be a good start-

  8. EKU says:

    lightbulb, I am glad to hear your insights, and agree with you. I don’t think most of people here understand tax or other fundermental issues. Kentucky is controlled by rural politicians whose major jobs are getting funds for their voters at rural counties. Lexington, Lousville, north Kentucky feed over 100 rural counties, and are bigger losers in the rural politics. Merging counties could save billions(one courthouse worth tens of millions), but impossible because of rural control.

    While talking about phone service, please also put in a big picture instead of your case, you might get some feel of how much waste.

  9. citizen says:

    Introduce this bill geared toward Kentucky politics on up the ladder, watch how much we save then Mr. Stumbo!

    to get a Senator to introduce this bill in the US Senate and a Representative to introduce a similar bill in the US House. These people will become American hero’s..

    Thanks,

    A Fellow American

    ***********************************

    Congressional Reform Act of 2010

    1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

    A. Two Six year Senate terms
    B. Six Two year House terms
    C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

    2. No Tenure / No Pension:

    A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

    3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security:

    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, server your term(s), then go home and back to work.

    4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

    5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

    6. Congress looses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

    7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

    8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/11 .

    The American people did not make this contract with congressmen, congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.