Republican House leaders emphasize investments in education, infrastructure, public safety, and human services
Republican House leaders in Kentucky have unveiled their budget plan, highlighting its focus on meeting current needs while setting the Bluegrass State on strong footing for the future. The extensive bill emphasizes investments in crucial areas such as education, infrastructure, public safety, and human services. Committee Chair Jason Petrie underlined the plan’s commitment to providing essential functions of state government and ensuring that every dollar invested benefits all Kentuckians.
State support for K-12 student transportation costs undergoes a change
One significant change in the budget plan is the level of state support for transportation costs for K-12 students. In the upcoming House floor version, the state will cover 100% of these costs in the second year of the biennium. For the first year of the two-year budget cycle commencing on July 1, the state will cover 80% of these expenses. Governor Andy Beshear had originally proposed full state funding for student transportation costs in both years, but the House committee maintained its own plans.
Teacher pay raises remain a point of contention
The House GOP plan does not include the guaranteed pay raises for educators and other public school employees that Governor Beshear had requested. Instead, the plan encourages school districts to utilize additional state funding to provide salary increases, with local administrators having the discretion to determine the size of the raises. Governor Beshear had advocated for an 11% raise for teachers and all other public school employees, including bus drivers, janitors, and cafeteria staff. He has prioritized this raise as a means to make Kentucky more competitive with other states, as the average teacher starting pay and average teacher pay in Kentucky currently rank near the bottom nationally.
Lawmakers aim to finalize budget with Senate input
The crafting of a budget is the top priority for lawmakers in Kentucky this year, and the House’s action on the budget plan marks another step toward its completion. Once the budget measure clears the House, it will proceed to the Senate, where state spending for the next two fiscal years will be further refined. The final version of the budget will be determined by a conference committee composed of House and Senate leaders. It is important to note that both chambers have Republican supermajorities, which will have an impact on the final outcome.