Budget Bills Pass House Committee

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee passed an amended version of the executive branch budget in a special meeting of the committee on Wednesday.

Chairman Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, called the bill “bare basic budgeting,” responding to questioning that no special items were in the legislation those projects, like funding for the Markey Cancer Center, could be considered in separate bills.

The two-year, $129.8 billion spending plan includes funding for K-12 public schools and strategic investments in public safety, infrastructure, and health services. HB 6 (HCS 2) also includes major investments in mental health and substance abuse recovery, and programs serving the state’s most vulnerable.

The House Committee Substitute adopted by committee members made several changes to the original version of the budget bill, including:

  • Increases the K-12 school transportation funding to 100% in FY 26
  • Updates the SEEK appropriation unit with new data provided by the Department of Education
  • Reduces the number of vacancy credits eliminated and applied to all agencies and exempted critical need classifications in Corrections, Kentucky State Police, Veterans Affairs, and other agencies
  • Provides additional funds for the construction of new KSP posts in Harlan and Richmond
  • Funded the HVAC system replacement at the Kentucky Department of Veteran’s Affairs Radcliff Veterans Center
  • Includes $10 million for the Kentucky Healthcare Workforce Investment Fund established by the legislature in 2023 RS
  • Increases the non-government expense authority for the Department of Military Affairs
  • Adds non-government expense authority up to $5 million in the current year and $10 million in FY 25 and FY 26 for the Department of Corrections
  • Includes language requested by the administration to provide non-governmental expense authority to the “Appropriations Not Otherwise Classified” budget unit
  • Provides $1.5 million maintenance pool for the Kentucky Horse Park

The revised version of the bill still includes language that explicitly states the intent of specific allocations, including a provision that encourages school districts to utilize additional SEEK resources to provide raises for certified and classified staff and report salary schedules and compensation increases. In addition, the bill includes a requirement that school districts publish certain local and statewide assessment information on their websites in an easily accessible manner. Districts would also be required to publish reports on salary schedules.

House Bill 6 passed the committee with a 17 to 1 vote, with four members of the committee passing on their vote.

The committee also passed an amended version of House Bill 264, the Judicial Branch Budget, with little discussion.

House Bill 1, which utilizes the budget reserve trust fund, i.e., one-time investments for multiple big-ticket items like pension funding mechanisms, also passed the committee with a 21-0 and one pass vote.

Addressing asks for a COLA increase, Petrie made it clear while the funding is there for large payments towards the pension systems, the systems are not yet fully funded.

With the investments from House Bill 1, Petrie said the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System would be 63% funded if “everything holds,” the Kentucky Retirement Systems would be just 24% funded. Currently, the CERS non-hazardous plan is just 56.1% funded, and the hazardous plan is 51.4% funded.

Also passing the committee was HB 263, the legislative branch budget; House Joint Resolution 56, which releases $62.5 million for the Department of Parks to make specific improvements to Kentucky State Parks; and House Bill 262, which sets a cap for disaster or emergency funds under the Military Affairs budget.

The entire House of Representatives is expected to act on the budget bills this week.