Although Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed budget would give Medicaid $166.4 million more from the state's General Fund over the next two years, current projections suggest the program will still fall short by about $61 million each year.
"The Medicaid program is not fully funded," said Janie Miller, secretary of the Health and Family Services Cabinet.
The state's chief public defender says Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed budget cuts may force public defenders to withdraw from some cases, potentially placing thousands of cases in limbo.
Kentucky would keep packing felons into its prisons and jails, and the Corrections Department would suck money from the rest of the justice system -- including Kentucky State Police, prosecutors and public defenders -- in Gov. Steve Beshear's two-year budget proposal.
University of Kentucky President Lee Todd implemented a hiring freeze and ordered about $10 million in cuts Wednesday to comply with Gov. Steve Beshear's directive to reduce the university's budget by 3 percent.
Here is a partial transcript of comments made Monday by Gov. Steve Beshear about potential cuts in the next two-year state budget.....
Q: Are you just trying to push casinos?
A: The numbers speak for themselves. We have a half-billion dollar hole. I won't be proposing a budget to be balanced on some speculative income off of casinos. That would not be responsible and I'm not going to do that.
One of the options that this commonwealth does have to create additional revenue is to allow limited expanded gaming. But that issue is hopefully to be addressed in this General Assembly and we won't know where that's going until April 15.
Q: Do you oppose a cigarette tax increase?
A: I don't favor any kind of increase of taxes at this time. I think Kentuckians are taxed enough, particularly in these hard economic costs. ...Now I realize Steve made a deal with the devil. He was willing to sell out to the gambling interests to be Governor. But he doesn’t want to look like he sold out. So instead of doing the right thing he’ll let the weakest of Kentuckians take the hit.
If the man had any cohones, he would tell the Casinos and Horse Breeders thanks for the bucks but now I’m going to actually lead Kentucky. He would back two bills that would address the immediate problems and start addressing state government revenue stream.
Rep. Jim Wayne, (here is a guy I would like to see be Governor) talks about the long term fixes.
The Consensus Forecasting Group anticipates that Kentucky is facing a staggering $900 million shortfall in the next biennium. The ramifications for our citizens living with this financial hole in our budget are too unpleasant to imagine.
But imagine we must. This problem will not drift into the shadows. Our citizens are concerned and raising their voices to make sure we, the leaders with the power, act to protect our children, our sick, our college students, our elderly, our transportation systems, our prisons, our law enforcement officers, our environment and our citizens with mental retardation, addictions and mental illnesses, as well as other areas of our lives touched by the state budget.
Rep. David Watkins gives us the short term answer with raising the cigarette tax.
A proposed law filed Friday would increase the state's tax on a pack of cigarettes to $1.
The 70-cent increase would raise more than $200 million for the cash-strapped state while decreasing the smoking rate, which is tops in the nation, said Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson.
Maybe Watkins would make a good Lt. Governor for Wayne.