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Negotiators Reach Agreement On State Budget

It appears that a state budget will go to a vote in the Kentucky General Assembly this week, after negotiators worked through the night to come to an agreement. According to the Lexington Herald Leader, negotiators emerged from their closed room around 5:30am Sunday, with the announcement that they had reached a deal two-year state budget, totaling 20.3-billion dollars.

One of the big cuts in the negotiating process was the 65-million dollars in bonds that Governor Beshear proposed for the renovation of Rupp Arena. The agreement calls for only a minor amount, which will be matched with local funds to move ahead with planning and engineering work on the project. Officials note that if the city of Lexington publicly produces a formal financing plan for the renovation and a signed lease agreement with the University of Kentucky, then it could once again seek funds from the General Assembly for the project.

Other items agreed to in the proposed budget include cuts in the operational budgets of the state’s universities by 1.5-percent. Community and technical colleges would also have a 1.5-percent cut in their operational budgets. However, they would be allowed to go ahead with their wish list of building projects, under a restriction that requires student fees and local donations at each campus to pay for that campus’ projects.

In another education matter, teacher pay raises would be mandated of school districts across the state, with a 1 percent increase in fiscal year 2015 and a 2 percent increase in fiscal year 2016.

In general, the budget agreed to by the negotiators has less debt than the Governor proposed. The list of projects and total debt levels still are being finalized, they said. The full House and Senate are expected to vote on the compromise budget Monday evening. 

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