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Special session brings sensible decisions

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By Sen. Jimmy Higdon

The 2010 Special Session closed with the passage of a two-year budget, a road plan, and an unemployment insurance bill.  After much public pressure, the House Majority agreed to a responsible budget without job-killing taxes and significantly decreased state debt.  It is a fiscally-conservative budget that reflects the common-sense values of Kentucky families who are struggling in this economy.  State government is not, and should not be, immune from the same challenges.   In this vein, the General Assembly also put a plan in place to pay back the federal government the money we had borrowed for our depleted unemployment insurance fund.  The fund will continue to be solvent and provide a safety net for those still searching for a job.  It was a necessary step to avoid greater costs threatened by the federal government.

As many of you are aware, the 2010 General Assembly Session closed without a budget because the House Majority Leadership would not put a budget without projects up to a vote prompting the Governor to call the Legislature back into session this week.  He offered to the House a budget proposal that closely mirrored the budget the Senate passed before we adjourned.  The budget that was finally passed cut most state government spending by 3.5% in 2010-11 and another 1% in 2011-12.  Education and Medicaid were spared.  Much like the Senate budget, this budget keeps 177 instructional school days and it requires the Governor to cut $300 million in state contracts and other costs.  Lastly, there is a process to replace our worst-shape schools.

It has been a difficult process but I am confident this budget will help prepare Kentucky for a better day.  It is a bare-bones budget package that will fund most state government operations in Kentucky through 2012 with less than was budgeted in 2009.  It does not increase taxes on those that employ Kentuckians and stops our spiral of unsustainable debt.  Government’s books cannot be balanced by unbalancing the books of its citizens.

As always, please feel free to call me at home with any questions or comments at (270) 692-6945 or toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or TTY 1-800-896-0305.  You can also find us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.state.ky.us.,