Budget Shortfall and Solutions

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Even though Monday’s Kentucky Tonight program was promoted as a discussion about the state budget and tax reform, it was really a conversation about the fall campaign and control of the State House of Representatives.

For a look at why the panelists got off topic, we’ll review the video in just a moment.

According to Kentucky Budget Director Jane Driskell, as reported by the Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus, the Beshear administration is facing a significant shortfall in state revenue, forcing Driskell and cabinet heads to find ways to balance the 2014-16 budget. Some have mentioned more departmental spending cuts and dipping into the state’s Rainy Day fund as possible alternatives.

Kentucky Tonight panelist Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Economic Policy Center, noted that individual income tax receipts fell short of projections, creating part of the problem.

Our discussion made a sharp turn away from the shortfall to how Kentucky can improve its anemic revenue growth. The group debated creating more jobs, the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and pursuing tax reform.

And then came a tweet from a viewer about right-to-work and why Kentucky hasn’t joined several neighboring states in adopting the law that allows workers to be hired without compelling them to belong to a union.

Roll the video.

A number of state legislators favor a right-to-work law.

Republicans need to gain only five seats to take control of the Kentucky House of Representatives. The state Senate already has a Republican majority.

I’m often asked why I like reporting, discussing, and teaching politics. One of my answers is because no matter how frustrating and impossible the political process seems to be, politics does matter. You only have to look to this fall’s battle for the state legislature and the future of Kentucky to make that observation.

Watch the full Kentucky Tonight discussion, or read a recap.

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