Here in Kentucky the state is facing a $200 million shortfall, and GOP Gov. Matt Bevin is taking it out of the paychecks of state employees and the pockets of those who need state services by ordering a nearly 20% budget cut to state agencies.
The Bevin administration asked constitutional officers and cabinet secretaries Friday to cut spending in most state agencies by 17.4 percent this fiscal year to address an expected $200 million budget shortfall.
The cuts would not affect SEEK, the state’s school funding formula; universities; Medicaid; the Department of Corrections; and debt payments, said Bevin communications director Amanda Stamper.
In a letter to state officials, State Budget Director John Chilton said Kentucky “must start preparing for the ongoing financial challenges facing the state” and come up with a budget reduction plan by Sept. 25.
Chilton said the cuts would save an estimated $350 million, enough to close the $200 million projected shortfall for the fiscal year that began July 1 and replenish the state’s $150 million rainy day fund for emergencies. He said the emergency fund will be spent in coming months and must be replaced to protect the state’s credit rating.
“While challenging, the current fiscal constraints present a unique opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness and necessity of programs within state government,” Chilton said. “Limited resources must be allocated to programs providing critical services and a strong return on investment.”
Chilton said agency heads are “best positioned to make critical judgments about which programs deserve full funding, and which should be significantly reduced.”
The legislative and judicial branches of state government were also asked to make similar cuts.
Bevin’s move to cut costs comes after a group of economists known as the Consensus Forecasting Group revised the state’s official revenue forecast downward last month by $200 million.
Kentucky has endured repeated rounds of budget cuts since the Great Recession of 2008. In all, some state agencies will have seen more than 70 percent of their budgets disappear in the last decade, according to the liberal-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Morehead, called Bevin’s request “unprecedented.”
The possible cuts to services, programs and jobs “seem premature,” Adkins said.
“We’re only in the third month of the new fiscal year and the governor’s move is based on a projection from a group of independent economists,” Adkins said. “It would seem to me to be better and more responsible to wait until more months pass in the fiscal year to get a better reading of what the shortfall might be.”
No wonder the Bluegrass State is one the unhappiest states in the nation, huh?
Attorney General Andy Beshear is probably going to have some words for Bevin's budget cutting by fiat, so we'll see how far this goes, but yeah. Since I've moved to Kentucky, state agencies and services have been slashed and burned. Yes, some of those cuts came under Steve Beshear, but a lot came from Bevin too and he's only been in office for a year and a half.
And you'd better believe a lot more cuts are coming as Bevin is freely going after Kentucky teachers and school employees for "creating" the state's pension shortfall, which ironically is only making things worse because retirements this fall are up sharply as people are getting out now before Bevin can scrap retirement benefits.
The guy's been a disaster for the state. We're not as bad off as Kansas, but if Bevin has his way we will be, and worse.