‘We have to prioritize’: GOP budget would increase funding for Kentucky schools and police

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Kentucky House Republicans unveiled their $124.8 billion budget proposal for the next two years.

House Bill 6, a proposed 251-page operating budget, was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, who chairs the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

The plan, called “Investing in Kentucky’s Future,” includes:

  • – Increase funding per pupil in schools by 4% in the first year and another 2% in the second year, to $117 million and $164 million, respectively.

  • Increased funding by $196 million to the two-year budget for the College Access Program.

  • Fund 100 new jobs for social workers over the next two years and allocate $13 million to increase the foster care per diem rate.

  • Significant investments in the Kentucky State Police, including $24.1 million to increase trooper pay and another $24.1 million to increase cadet class sizes.

“We know that a strong, fiscally conservative budget is essential to ensuring the long-term economic stability and prosperity of the people of Kentucky,” Petrie said in a statement after introducing the bill.

“HB 6 continues our commitment to investing in the future of our commonwealth while prioritizing responsible spending that aims to allocate resources efficiently while maintaining essential public services.”

Before its introduction, the budget bill supported by House Republican leaders was expected to differ significantly from the bill The proposal was unveiled by Gov. Andy Beshear in December. For example, Beshear is pushing for universal pre-K, which GOP leaders have generally rejected.

“We do not have unlimited resources and what we do have in revenue belongs to the people of our commonwealth. We have to prioritize spending and look at what Kentuckians get as a result of the money we allocate,” Petrie said in the statement.

Petrie also introduced House Bill 1, a massive $1.74 billion appropriations bill focused on one-time investments in public safety, infrastructure and economic development, as well as paying off the state’s pension obligations.

Nearly $1 billion will pay off pension liabilities.

The spending comes exclusively from the State Budget Reserve Trust Fund (also known as the “Rainy Day Fund”), which It has grown to over $3.7 billion.

The bill reflects Republicans’ focus on making “one-time” investments with surplus dollars rather than setting aside money for recurring expenses, such as Beshear-backed proposals to fund universal pre-K and dramatically increase the number of teachers.

Spending in House Bill 1 includes:

  • $500 million for the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

  • $300 million to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System non-hazardous pension fund.

  • $450 million to provide matching funds for federal grants approved through GRANT created the last session.

  • $150 million to the Kentucky State Police Retirement Fund.

  • $150 million for drinking and sanitation infrastructure.

  • $75 million to develop the site for economic development purposes under the Kentucky Product Development Initiative program.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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