Today, Governor Steve Beshear issued line-item vetoes on House Bill 265, the state's biennial budget. Below is his statement regarding the bill and the line-item vetoes:
"This is the most difficult budget I have ever drafted, and it will also be a challenge to implement and manage over the next two years. I appreciate that the legislature passed my budget with very few changes. We have worked hard to make wise decisions regarding the use and investment of taxpayer dollars, and the approval of this budget indicates the legislature's support of our strategies.
This budget funds SEEK, the primary funding formula for K-12 education, at my recommended level. It maintains funding for Medicaid and corrections, two of the largest budget expenditures.
Despite the budget's challenges, we are making key investments in our future. My budget reduces social worker caseloads in the area of child abuse and neglect, funds colon cancer screenings for 4,000 uninsured Kentuckians, funds aggressive substance abuse treatment in Medicaid, and provides funding for an elder abuse registry to protect senior citizens from unscrupulous caretakers.
I remain disappointed that legislators removed funds to expand preschool to more 4-year-olds. I am convinced that preparing our youngest children for success in school will pay enormous dividends for the future for our state, and I will continue to work to make sure all our children enter school ready to learn.
Unfortunately, the recession's aftermath forced further spending cuts of up to 8.4 percent for many state agencies. This marks the eleventh time that we have cut programs and services since I took office, with some agencies enduring collective cuts of 30 percent.
Legislators did make some changes in the budget that inhibit the administration's ability to successfully manage the implementation of the budget. Lawmakers added $80 million in unspecified reductions over the biennium -- on top of the 8.4 percent already mandated for many agencies. They also passed other bills with financial impacts that are not reflected in the final numbers, which expands the budget gap.
As a result, I am vetoing several provisions of the budget which add new obligations, limit necessary flexibility, and reduce the ability to manage this budget.
Although this is a very challenging budget, this budget does allow us to continue to provide the most critical services while making strategic investments in education and health to position us for the future.
However, this legislature still has work to do. The biennial Transportation budget and Six-Year Road Plan must be passed on the final day of the session. By putting off these important votes, lawmakers are endangering the road and bridge maintenance and construction projects scheduled across the state. Kentucky needs a safe, dependable road system, and that requires a Transportation budget and Road Plan. No one wants a costly special session, and I am again calling on the legislature to come to an agreement on these bills quickly."
A copy of the veto message is attached. The Governor has also signed the judicial and legislative branch budgets.