FRANKFORT, Ky. — A $23-plus billion state spending plan that would provide pay raises for state employees and teachers while beefing up funding for public schools and public pensions has passed the House budget committee and is on its way to the floor of the Kentucky House.
House Bill 352 sponsor and House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chair Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, said the proposed state Executive Branch budget legislation – which would keep the state’s debt ratio at the same percentage proposed by Gov. Andy Beshear while maintaining the state’s budget reserve trust fund at $392.4 million – is “not the end of the process, but a step.”
Pay raises of 1% in each of the next two fiscal years for both state and school employees are found in the bill, as are millions of dollars for additional personnel for the Office of the Attorney General and various other constitutional offices. Pay raises for local prosecutors over the biennium are also proposed, among other provisions.
Public pensions would receive support, too, including teacher pensions for which the bill would provide $1.1 billion to the Teachers’ Retirement System to help fully fund the system actuarially-required pension obligations over the biennium.
HB 352 would also beef up spending aimed at improving the health and safety of Kentuckians through a proposed influx of around $33 million to hire and retain 50 additional state social workers. And it includes a proposed $18 million for local school districts to implement school safety requirements required under 2019 SB 1, the School Safety and Resiliency Act signed into law last year.
Additionally HB 352 proposes an increase in guaranteed per pupil base funding, or SEEK, for public schools. And it would deliver well over $63 million in the next biennium for the state’s performance-based funding pool to serve clearly-defined needs of Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions, in addition to other spending provisions.
HB 352 was approved by the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee and returned to the full House, along with committee-approved legislation related to the state tax code found in HB 351 and the state Legislative Branch budget found in HB 355.
The full House is expected to vote on HB 352 Friday.
An assessment of the bill by the Kentucky Center For Economic Policy characterizes its content this way:
• Spreads out teacher raise, provides slightly less to core school funding overall
• Provides small increase for higher education, requires performance funding
• Changes approach to social workers, puts more to the rainy day fund
• Changes funding formula for quasi pensions
• Doesn’t include new revenue.
The House budget plan includes many of the same priorities that the governor proposed, but contains a different emphasis in how much money should go to a variety of areas, according to KCEP.
“Compared to the governor’s budget, the House budget proposes a smaller raise for teachers and a 1% raise for non-teacher school district employees not included in the governor’s plan; fewer new social workers but higher social worker salaries; and more money for the rainy day fund with an additional $89 million as opposed to $10 million more in the governor’s plan. Unlike the governor proposal, the House budget includes no new revenue,” a news release by KCEP states.