By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Presidents of the 16 campuses of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System said Monday they can raise money from their communities and other public and private sources to help pay for agency bonds to provide campus improvements.
The KCTCS campus presidents appeared with Gov. Steve Beshear and KCTCS President Michael McCall at a Capitol news conference Monday to tout Beshear’s budget proposal to issue $145.5 million in agency bonds to KCTCS to provide infrastructure at each campus that Beshear said is “desperately needed.”
Beshear said the bonds will be supported by KCTCS revenues. The bonds will be used to fund up to 75 percent of the projects. At least 25 percent of the remaining cost will come from local communities and other public and private sources.
McCall said students will have to pay an $8-a-credit-hour fee to pay for the bonds. He said that may be $4-an-hour in the fall semester this year and might be in addition to a tuition increase.
The KCTCS system now has more than 92,000 students.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Senate President Robert Stivers on Thursday described the debt in Gov. Steve Beshear’s two-year budget plan as “large.”
Stivers, R-Manchester, was quick to say Senate Republican leaders have not yet decided how to respond to Beshear’s budget because they still are analyzing it.
Stivers also noted that action on Beshear’s budget will begin in the House. The House version of the budget then will go to the Senate for its consideration. Both chambers must agree on a compromise budget before it can take effect.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Kentucky’s General Fund took in 3.5 percent less money last month than it did in December 2012, a decrease of $33.2 million, the state budget director’s office said Friday.
Total revenues for the month were $912.6 million, compared to $945.8 million in December 2012.
General Fund receipts have increased 1.2 percent for the first six months of the fiscal year that ends June 30. The official revenue forecast for this fiscal year is 2.1 percent growth.
Revenues would need to grow 3.1 percent for the last six months of this fiscal year to meet that estimate.
State budget director Jane C. Driskell said the December 2013 decline was not all that weak.
“December 2012 collections contained approximately $25 million in amnesty money that created an artificial headwind to overcome this year,” she said. “Additionally, property tax collections are subject to timing and large month-to-month variations.
“Taken together, these events created a nearly $45 million hole which the remaining tax collections could not overcome. We will continue to monitor receipts and are optimistic we can meet the revenue estimates.”
Meanwhile, receipts for the state Road Fund increased 4.2 percent with collections of $121.1 million.
Official Road Fund estimates call for an increase in revenues of 6.1 percent for the fiscal year.
Based on year-to-date growth of 7 percent, revenues need to increase 5.2 percent for the next six months to meet the estimate.
Driskell noted that even though Road Fund collections are ahead of pace to meet the official estimate, “receipts will slow down in the second half of the year” because the tax rate on motor fuels will decline 1.5 cents per gallon from January through March due to reductions in wholesale fuels prices.
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that he’ll present a two-year budget plan to lawmakers next month that will not assume any changes in the state’s tax code or the legalization of casino gambling, though he’ll push for both of those initiatives.
Beshear also said he’s “determined that we’re going to find a way” to restore some of the funding K-12 schools lost during multiple rounds of state budget cuts since the 2008 recession.
The Kentucky Department of Education plans to lobby for an extra $336 million in the next two-year budget to return local school districts to pre-recession funding levels. Roughly half would go to the SEEK formula, the state’s primary per-pupil funding source, and the rest would assist districts with teacher training, technology, textbooks and other items.
How much of that $336 million the schools will get has yet to be determined, Beshear told reporters at a year’s end news conference in his Capitol office.
“If we’re going to be able to reinvest in education at all, it’s going to require some cuts in other agencies,” the governor said.
“I’m determined that someway, somehow, we’re not going to fall backward,” Beshear said. “Our education community has done an amazing job … in continuing to move this state forward with little to no money, we’ve not given them many tools with which to do their jobs, but they’ve done it anyway.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Revenue for the state’s General Fund, which pays for most state programs, dipped slightly in October while receipts for the Road Fund showed a bigger drop.
State budget director Jane Driskell said Tuesday that October’s General Fund receipts fell 0.4 percent compared to October 2012 collections.
Total revenues for the month were $772.5 million, compared to $725.5 million last October.
Receipts have increased 2.4 percent for the first four months of this fiscal year, which began July 1. They need to grow 1.6 percent over the final eight months of fiscal year 2014 to realize the official revenue estimate for the year of $9.52 billion.
Driskell said major revenue accounts continue to perform well, especially the sales and use tax. It increased at a 5.3 percent pace in October and has grown 3 percent through the first four months of this fiscal year.
“Despite the small decline in aggregate General Fund revenues in October, the major accounts performed well and revenues are slightly ahead of pace to meet the budgeted total,” Driskell said.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Six months after unveiling a plan to quickly resolve payment disputes between medical providers and Medicaid managed care companies, Gov. Steve Beshear said the program is working.
“In both health outcomes and financial savings, Medicaid managed care is succeeding in Kentucky,” Beshear said Thursday at a Capitol news briefing.
In April, Beshear vetoed a bill designed to help hospitals and doctors receive prompt payment from three Medicaid managed care companies, saying it could have unintended consequences. The proposed law had the backing of many in the medical community but the legislature did not have time to consider overriding the veto.
Instead, Beshear implemented his own plan to address complaints by health providers. As a result, complaints are down, more payments are processed quickly and health outcomes continue to improve, said the Democratic governor.
Mike Rust, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, was not immediately available for comment.
Beshear noted that next month marks the two-year anniversary of managed care in most parts of Kentucky, a practice now used in 47 states.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Kentucky had a good month financially in August.
State budget director Jane C. Driskell reported Tuesday that receipts for the General Fund, which pays for most state programs, increased 3.8 percent in August compared to the same month last year.
Total revenue for the month was $663.7 million, compared to $639.1 million during August 2012.
General Fund receipts have increased 2.9 percent so far this fiscal year, which began July 1.
The official revenue estimate for this fiscal year calls for revenue to increase 1.9 percent compared to last year’s receipts. Based on August results, General Fund revenue needs to grow 1.7 percent for the rest of the fiscal year to meet the official estimate.
Sales tax collections grew by 5.8 percent in August, which Driskell said was “particularly encouraging” given declines last year.
“An increase in construction activity appears to have helped boost August collections,” she said.
Meanwhile, the state Road Fund, which pays for road projects, grew 8.3 percent in August with revenue of $141.3 million.
Road Fund revenue estimates call for a 5.1 percent increase in receipts for this fiscal year. Based on year-to-date collections, revenues must increase 5.1 percent for the rest of this fiscal year to meet the estimate.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – The future of Kentucky’s economy is “optimistically uncertain,” a state economist told a panel Wednesday that is trying to predict how much money the state will have for its next two-year budget.
Greg Harkenrider, deputy executive director of the Governor’s Office for Economic Analysis, told the non-partisan Consensus Forecasting Group that there seems to be some consensus among economists for a more robust economic recovery but “uncertainty continues to muddy the waters.”
He noted uncertainty with the markets and cautious hiring, investment decisions and household decisions.
He said the “golden boy” in the economy may be housing. “Housing led us into the recession and it may lead us out of it.”
Harkenrider and other state economists presented to the eight-member panel of independent economists a wide array of economic data to help it at its next meeting – Aug. 15 – to come up with revenue estimates for the next four years.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –The impact of the across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration on Kentucky programs ranging from special education teachers to social workers is expected to be even more devastating next year, state education and human resources officials warned lawmakers Thursday.
They said the federal cuts will mean tough decisions for state legislators as they craft the state’s next two-year budget in Kentucky’s 2014 General Assembly that begins in January. The budget depends on state and federal tax dollars.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday told members of the state legislature’s budget committees that the federal cuts to education this state fiscal year that began July 1 will amount to about $26 million.
Meanwhile, Beth Jurek, budget chief for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the cuts to the cabinet amount to about $8.2 million in fiscal year 2013 and between $17.7 million and $18.4 million the following year.
Hiren Desai, the education department’s associate commissioner for administration and support, said the impact of the cuts will be worse next year, particularly on school staffing, as school districts struggle with dwindling federal funds.
He predicted that “a perfect storm” will develop early next year when the public realizes the impact of the federal cuts and state lawmakers have to produce a balanced budget.
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Kentucky finished the fiscal year that ended June 30 with $40.5 million more than originally expected, according to final revenue numbers released Wednesday.
The state won’t have a final tally of how much it spent until later this month, so it’s still not known if there is a budget surplus or deficit, said State Budget Director Jane Driskell.
This is the third straight year that Kentucky’s General Fund revenue has increased. Taxes and fees collected for the year totaled $9.34 billion, or 2.8 percent more than fiscal year 2012.
Revenue forecasters had projected the state would collect $9.3 billion. Legislators used that forecast to write the state’s two-year budget.
Tax collections showed growth in all four fiscal quarters, according to numbers released by the Office of State Budget Director.