Kentucky lawmakers started wrapping up work Wednesday on the state’s next two-year budget, which increases spending on education and delivers big pay raises for state employees.
The spending plan won Senate passage with bipartisan support. The measure was returned to the House for a climactic vote that would send it to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
“This is a great budget that makes needed investments in the commonwealth,” said GOP Sen. Phillip Wheeler. “It not only invests in the ‘Golden Triangle,’ it makes a lot of investments in rural areas.”
The measure pumps money into renovating state parks and the state fairgrounds. It supplies public pension systems with extra cash to help pay off unfunded liabilities. Lawmakers funded full-day kindergarten, reflecting a request from school districts.
State employees would receive a pay raise of at least 8% in the first year of the biennium. State police troopers and social workers are among those in line for even bigger raises. The bill sets aside enough money for a 12% salary boost in the second year. Specific raises for state workers would be based on a Personnel Cabinet study factoring in cost of living, job duties and other variables.
Despite the investments, Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey called the final budget a “missed opportunity” to do more, pointing to the state’s massive revenue surpluses.