Beshear: House GOP budget ‘isn’t workable’ for KY, pushes state backwards

Gov. Andy Beshear Thursday lambasted a Republican budget proposal as full of debilitating staffing cuts and “funny and fuzzy math” and laden with unprecedented bureaucratic red-tape and micromanagement of the executive branch.

House Republicans unveiled their budget proposal Tuesday, which clashed significantly from the budget Beshear, a Democrat, rolled out in December.

“This budget, by the authors who submitted it ... not only doesn’t help us move forward, it pushes us backwards,” Beshear said.

For more than 20 minutes, Beshear went slide-by-slide, prosecuting his case against the GOP budget bills — the operating budget in House Bill 6 and the one-time expenditures in House Bill 1 — sponsored by Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

Beshear’s critiques included:

  • A new requirement for the governor’s office to submit a comprehensive report for “each and every executive order issued” or face a penalty of a 10% reduction in budget.

  • The absence of dedicated 11% pay raises for school employees, no funding for universal pre-K and leaving student transportation short of 100% funding.

  • No dollars provided to build two new girls-only juvenile detention centers.

“This is the type of red tape that prevents things from getting done in government,” Beshear said of added reporting requirements in House Bill 6.

“And let me say, this isn’t policy and oversight, which is the role of the General Assembly. This is direct micromanagement and attempts to penalize within that micromanagement. This isn’t workable. I believe it is beyond the separation of powers.

“But more than that, it’s going to grind to a halt people actually getting things done because of the amount of paperwork that every section and part of the executive branch would have to be completing.”

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Beshear, however, was hopeful to see the budget “get better” in the Senate, where, he said, leadership has been more open to discussions with his office.

“There’s our priorities, and then there’s some surprises in the House budget that hopefully the Senate pushes off immediately like the blind hatchet taken to state government without any conversation or knowledge of the ramifications and repercussions,” Beshear said.

“I can’t imagine the Senate is going to say, ‘We’re going to go along with this and not give you enough personnel to make (Department of Juvenile Justice) facilities safe.’ Hopefully the rest of the House won’t go along with that.”

Petrie said Wednesday that his team reviewed Beshear budget request and “met with the governor’s primary point people” on certain issues. He mentioned that one element in House Bill 1 came directly from the governor’s office’s recommendations.

Still, Petrie emphasized the legislature’s independence from the governor in crafting the majority of the budget.

“There’s a degree of communication and degree of consideration, but – no disrespect to anybody – the executive branch is the executive, we’re the legislative, there’s a judicial, and we all play our role. We received input from everybody. “

Politics reporter Austin Horn contributed to this report.