As Gov. Steve Beshear prepares to address the General Assembly about the state’s budget, area legislators still can’t say specifically how deep they expect cuts will be in this year’s budget cycle.
“We haven’t had any leaks out of the administration or anywhere else,” said state Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green. “The Senate will not get the budget probably until about two weeks before we’re supposed to be done.”
Beshear warned in his State of the Commonwealth address this month that cuts would be deep.
“We will not be relying on new revenue to balance this budget,” Beshear said in the speech. “Let me repeat that. The key to balancing this budget lies not on the revenue side, but on the spending side. We will be cutting.”
Estimates out of the governor’s office suggest that state departments will experience cuts ranging from 7 percent to 9 percent.
Among the problems facing the state is that federal stimulus money used in recent years to cover shortfalls is no longer available, as Beshear pointed out on a conference call with reporters this month.
State Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said the House typically works closely with agencies to determine how they can make cuts. “By the time all hands work on it – while it is not good – it will be acceptable and move the state forward,” Richards said.
An official at Western Kentucky University, which often is heavily influenced by the state’s budget, said it’s too early to comment on how the budget could affect WKU.
“We aren’t getting any specifics,” said Robbin Taylor, vice president for public affairs, in an email. “Clearly we anticipate cuts to be announced for postsecondary (education).”
Redistricting is also expected to remain atop lawmakers’ agenda this week. The Senate is expected to unveil its redistricting map.
Wilson previously said he expects to no longer represent Butler County and that his district will be narrowed to just Warren County.
More discussion is expected about the state House’s redistricting proposal. Under a plan approved by the Democrat-controlled House, Warren County would include six different districts and would place Rep. C.B. Embry, R-Morgantown, Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, and Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Brownsville, into a single district – a scenario DeCesare told the Daily News on Friday he strongly opposes.
Legislators cut the week short as inclement weather rolled through the state. Friday’s sessions in both the House and Senate were canceled, and activities will resume Tuesday.