The General Assembly adjourned the 2010 session without finalizing a budget. It is a matter that has caused much frustration and even anger. People should be mad. The fact of the matter is that the Senate would not agree to a fiscally unsound budget proposed by the House that raised over $280 million in taxes and bonded over $1 billion in projects that we cannot afford.
The Senate negotiated for several weeks. We offered to meet the House on their education and Medicaid services spending. We even thought we had an agreement on two occasions. Two weeks ago, the Senate voted almost unanimously to pass a two-year budget that was agreed to by all the Democratic and Republican Senate budget conferees and Republican Representative budget conferees. This budget made fair and reasonable recessionary adjustments to the state budget, restored SEEK and Medicaid funding, and laid out a process to replace our worst-shape schools without raising taxes. It helped Kentucky live within our means and prepared us for a better day. Unfortunately, Majority House Leadership would not allow a vote on a two-year budget without projects.
On the last evening, the House proposed what they called a “continuation budget.” Even the Governor called it a “gimmick.” It was a one-year budget that would have continued current spending levels – spending levels we cannot afford even now. It would have forced 7-8 percent cuts to state services in the second year. Quite simply, it would have bankrupted the state. The Senate had no interest in doing this.
We cannot continue to tax and spend and borrow. We must provide financial stability to our citizens so they know we have our financial house in order. The state must make the same hard choices that our families are making and have been making for a long time.
After a cooling off period, I am sure that talks will continue between the Senate and the House. After having little involvement during the session, the Governor announced that he would call the General Assembly back into session in May. It would be a mistake to call us back without a prior written agreement. We in the Senate are standing firm against higher debt and higher taxes. If you agree, please call toll-free 1-800-372-7181 or TTY 1-800-896-0305 and let your representative know that you support a responsible two-year budget that includes no job-killing taxes on Kentucky employers and stops our spiral into unsustainable indebtedness. As always, you can also call me at home, 270-692-6945.
Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) represents the 14th District including Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor, and Washington counties. He serves on the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Education Committee, the State and Local Government Committee, and the Transportation Committee. In addition, he is also the Chairman of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation.