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April 15, 2016

April 15, 2016

Host Bill Bryant and a panel of journalists from around the state discuss the week's news, including a compromise between House and Senate leadership on the state budget. Guests: Joseph Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal; Michael Gossum of WBKO-TV in Bowling Green; and John Stamper of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
S42 E24 Length 26:31 Premiere: 4.15.16

News of the Week: April 15, 2016

After a little more than three months of work and a final week of deadline drama, the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly session concluded Friday night with lawmakers approving a two-year, $21 billion spending plan for the commonwealth.

The journalists on Comment on Kentucky discussed the budget deal, what the agreement means for public education, and several vetoes issued by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Details on Budget Compromise
Budget conferees reach an agreement early Thursday morning, and by Friday afternoon details of the deal began to emerge. The budget puts more than $1 billion into the state’s teacher and public employee retirement plans, and it cuts 9 percent of funding for most state agencies.

The spending plan maintains support for K-12 education but slashes 4.5 percent from higher education. That represents a compromise between Senate Republicans and Gov. Bevin who wanted a 9 percent reduction in college and university funding, and House Democrats who wanted no decrease for higher education.

John Stamper of the Lexington Herald-Leader says the spending plan also transfers $125 million in surplus monies from the public employee health insurance trust fund to a new permanent fund that Bevin requested for future pension payments; creates a $100 million bond pool to fund one workforce development project in each of Kentucky’s six Congressional districts; provides about $34 million to the judicial branch to help avert a temporary shutdown of the state court system; includes no pay raises for state employees except for state police officers; and reduces state-conducted coal mine inspections from six to four per year.

Although negotiations went down to the wire, Joe Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal says lawmakers were going to reach an agreement because none of them wanted to end the session in an election year without a budget. Plus, he says Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) and House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) always find a way to work together.

Impacts on Higher Education
On Tuesday of last week, Bevin said he would not call a special session if lawmakers failed to pass a budget. While the pledge likely didn’t motivate legislators charged with negotiating a deal, Gerth says Bevin’s statement probably did inspire state university presidents to agree to the 4.5 percent reduction in their state appropriations. Gerth says that the presidents feared financial calamity for their institutions if the state started the new fiscal year without a spending plan.

The budget exempts financially strapped Kentucky State University from the cuts, but that leaves the other institutions scrambling to adjust. Michael Gossum of WBKO-TV in Bowling Green says officials at Western Kentucky University plan to tap – and possibly deplete – the school’s reserve fund to compensate for the funding reduction.

It’s still uncertain whether Bevin’s 4.5 percent decrease in university funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year will stand. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has sued Bevin over the action, saying governors cannot change a previously passed budget unless there’s an emergency or a financial shortfall. A hearing on the matter is set for Thursday, April 21, and Gerth says a judgment in favor of Bevin could further tip the balance of power in the commonwealth to the executive branch.

The budget did include one bit of good news for Kentuckians seeking higher education. The General Assembly approved $25 million in tuition assistance for students pursing degrees at Kentucky’s community colleges and public and private universities. Gerth says the Work Ready scholarships will require students to maintain a 2.5 grade point average.

Governor Issues Vetoes
That tuition program could fall victim to the governor’s veto pen, though. John Stamper says the governor has argued there is no money available for new expenditures.

Bevin had already issued seven vetoes by the end of last week, some of them against GOP-backed legislation. Gerth says that puts the Republican on track to match the 10 vetoes Democratic Gov. Paul Patton handed down in 2000. Bevin’s vetoes include rejecting a tax credit for businesses that give their employees time off to donate bone marrow or organs. Bevin argued the proposal would cost too much, but Gerth says the credit was estimated to cost about $100,000 the first year and a minimal amount in future years.

The governor also vetoed legislation that would require elder-care facilities to educate their residents about the benefits of getting a flu vaccination. Gerth says Bevin labeled the measure an intrusion on private businesses. And Bevin rejected a plan to allow veterans to get civilian professional or occupational licenses for jobs they were trained to perform in the military. Gerth says the House overrode Bevin’s veto of that bill, but the Senate declined to revisit the measure.

Also, Stamper says the governor cut a package of tax breaks for a variety of interests that lawmakers included in the revenue bill. The governor said the state could not afford to lose any more revenue as it addresses the public pension debts.

The opinions expressed on Comment on Kentucky and in this program synopsis are the responsibility of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of KET.

Program Details

Comment on Kentucky

About Comment on Kentucky

KET's longest-running public affairs program has been assembling journalists to offer perspectives on the week's news and newsmakers since 1974. The program is hosted by Bill Bryant.

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Season 42 Episodes

October 28, 2016

S42 E52 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.28.16

October 21, 2016

S42 E51 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 10.21.16

October 14, 2016

S42 E50 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.14.16

October 7, 2016

S42 E49 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10.7.16

September 30, 2016

S42 E48 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.30.16

September 23, 2016

S42 E47 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.23.16

September 16, 2016

S42 E46 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.15.16

September 9, 2016

S42 E45 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.9.16

September 2, 2016

S42 E44 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.2.16

August 26, 2016

S42 E43 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.26.16

August 19, 2016

S42 E42 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.19.16

August 12, 2016

S42 E41 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.12.16

August 5, 2016

S42 E40 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.5.16

July 29, 2016

S42 E39 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.29.16

July 22, 2016

S42 E38 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.22.16

July 15, 2016

S42 E37 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.15.16

July 8, 2016

S42 E36 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.7.16

July 1, 2016

S42 E35 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.1.16

June 24, 2016

S42 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.24.16

June 17, 2016

S42 E33 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.17.16

June 10, 2016

S42 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.10.16

June 3, 2016

S42 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.3.16

May 27, 2016

S42 E30 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.27.16

May 20, 2016

S42 E29 Length 26:53 Premiere Date 5.20.16

May 13, 2016

S42 E28 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.13.16

May 6, 2016

S42 E27 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.6.16

April 29, 2016

S42 E26 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.29.16

April 22, 2016

S42 E25 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.22.16

April 15, 2016

S42 E24 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.15.16

April 8, 2016

S42 E23 Length 26:39 Premiere Date 4.7.16

April 1, 2016

S42 E22 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 3.31.16

March 25, 2016

S42 E21 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.25.16

March 18, 2016

S42 E20 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 3.18.16

March 11, 2016

S42 E19 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.11.16

March 4, 2016

S42 E18 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.4.16

February 26, 2016

S42 E17 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.26.16

February 19, 2016

S42 E16 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.19.16

February 12, 2016

S42 E15 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 2.12.16

February 5, 2016

S42 E14 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.5.16

January 29, 2016

S42 E13 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 1.29.16

January 22, 2016

S42 E12 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.22.16

January 15, 2016

S42 E11 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 1.15.16

January 8, 2016

S42 E10 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.8.16

January 1, 2016

S42 E9 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.1.16

December 18, 2015

S42 E7 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.18.15

December 11, 2015

S42 E6 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 12.11.15

December 4, 2015

S42 E5 Length 24:51 Premiere Date 12.4.15

November 27, 2015

S42 E4 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11.27.15

November 20, 2015

S42 E3 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.20.15

November 13, 2015

S42 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.13.15

November 6, 2015

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