Kentucky state budget
The Kentucky legislature approved the $19.3 billion biennial state budget on March 30, 2012. Kentucky budgets for 2-year cycles on a biennium basis. The budget cuts spending by many state agencies by more than 8.4 percent.
Kentucky has a total state debt of approximately $63,743,649,000, when calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and the FY2013 budget gap. The total state debt increased slightly over the prior year's debt total of $63,268,507,000.
Kentucky's total state debt per capita is $14,588.80.
A new Fraser Institute report on economic freedom ranks Kentucky 46th in economic Freedom. Delaware ranks 1st and New Mexico ranks 50th. The study examines the impact of economic freedom on both the level of economic activity and the growth of economic activity. According to the study, the freest economies operate with minimal government interference, relying upon personal choice and markets to answer basic economic questions. More governmental restrictions on those choices curbs economic freedom. The study looks at three major categories per state – size of government, taxes and regulations. 
Federal Aid to State Budget
The chart below represents how much of the state’s budget comes from the federal government. The number is the corresponding ranking in relation to the rest of the nation (if #1, the state receives the highest percentage of federal funding in the nation):
|Kentucky||31.82% (#17)||34.87% (#21)||40% (#15)||38.29% (#17)|
Figures are calculated by dividing each state’s intergovernmental revenue into its general revenue. Data is available at in U.S. Census.
Fiscal Years 2013-14 Budget
Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed more than three dozen line-items in the budget when he signed it into law on April 11, 2012.
The budget can be found here.
Base funding for public schools for FY2014 it’s $2.9 billion. It is the largest General Fund appropriation in the budget.
The budget includes nearly $1.5 billion per year for Medicaid, a 42 percent increase in funding over the FY2007-08 budget. Enrollment in Medicaid over that time has grown by approximately 78,000 to 800,130.
The state budget does not have a single line item for its contribution to the larger retirement systems for state workers.
The Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System received $300 million from the state in 2014, a dramatic increase from FY2008 when it received $183 million.
Debt service payments
The state General Fund debt service payments will be $435 million in 2014.
House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand said on Feb. 26, 2012, that he anticipated only "fine tuning" would be needed on the Democratic governor's budget, no any major changes. He said that the legislature would likely not increase taxes, nor would they give state workers a pay raise. The legislature approved the final draft of the $19.3 budget on March 30, 2012, with the House approving the budget with a vote of 81-7 and the Senate voting 36-1 in favor.
The House voted 78-17 on March 7, 2012, to pass the first version of $19.5 billion state budget bill, HB 265. The House budget is similar to that introduced in Jan. 2012 by Gov. Beshear and includes 8.4 percent cuts to many state programs and also a 6.4 percent reduction in funding for state universities.
The biggest differences between the House budget and the Governor's proposed budget are:
- suspension of a 1.5 percent annual cost-of-living increase in benefits for state government retirees for the next two years;
- rejection of the Governor's request to permit state universities to use their own revenue to fund approximately $450 million in construction projects.
The House passed separate bills for the judicial and legislative branch budgets. Both branches take an 8.4 percent cut in their operational costs.
The Senate bill included cuts not in the House budget, including eliminating $7.5 million in additional funds for preschool and a $2,500 monthly housing allowance for Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson. The Senate budget also cut $25 million in bonds for maintenance and renovation of existing buildings on university campuses that was included in both the budgets from the governor and the House.
A House-Senate conference committee convened on March 26, 2012, to reconcile differences between the two versions of the budget and agreed to eliminate the annual living expense for Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson. Key differences between the House and Senate budgets are:
- The Senate version does not authorize a $3.5 million state bond for the downtown Lexington redevelopment project around Lexington Center and Rupp Arena;
- the Senate version eliminates an additional $3.5 million appropriation to the Kentucky Horse Park;
- the House version includes millions of dollars in coal severance projects — projects paid for by taxes from coal — that are not included in the Senate budget;
- the Senate version does not include the Kentucky Appalachian College Completion Program, a proposed college scholarship for kids in Eastern Kentucky that would be financed by coal severance taxes.
Governor's Proposed Budget
Gov. Beshear presented his 2012-14 budget on Jan. 17, 2012, and the text of the governor's budget address can be found here. The proposal is a spending plan for about $19.2 billion in state General Fund revenue during the two-year period that begins July 1, 2012. Under the proposed budget, most state agencies will see cuts of 8.4 percent in the first year of the biennium, FY 2013, and then straight-lined budgets in the second year, FY 2014. State universities would be cut by 6.4 percent next year, and Kentucky State Police and most public safety agencies by 2.2 percent. The plan makes $286 million in cuts in the first year of the biennial budget, but none in the second year.
The Governor's proposed budget includes some increases, including:
- $21 million over two years to reduce caseloads of social workers
- $15 million more to expand preschool in the budget’s second year
- $4 million to expand the state’s tracking program to fight the abuse of prescription drugs;
- $8 million for substance abuse treatment in the Medicaid program for adults and teens.
Kentucky's comprehensive spending transparency website, called "Kentucky's Open Door," continues to be updated with new state spending information. Information about state employee salaries, contracts, and grants is now available online.
- See also: Evaluation of Kentucky state website
Check It Out Kentucky! provides a searchable database of the Secretary of State's financial information, organized by categories such as expenditures and vendors. In addition, the Office of the Treasurer has developed a site, V.I.E.W. (Vendor Income and Expense Watch), that posts information on contract amounts, contractors, and the government agency issuing the fund. Currently, V.I.E.W. contains financial information for only a handful of state agencies, including the Auditor of Public Accounts, the Department of Highways, the Kentucky State Treasury (State Treasurer), and the Office of the Controller. Data from other agencies will be placed online as that data is approved for release. See the official V.I.E.W. website for more details.
Kentucky's Open Door provides spending information including state expenditures on grants, contracts, and public employee salaries. Click here to visit the site.
The following table is helpful in evaluating the level of transparency provided by Check It Out Kentucky!, V.I.E.W., and Kentucky's Open Door:
|State Database||Searchability||Grants||Contracts||Line Item Expenditures||Dept/Agency Budgets||Public Employee Salary|
|Kentucky's Open Door|
- Kentucky's Open Door provides searchable records of line item expenditures, contracts, and employee salaries.
- Kentucky's Open Door links to budget documents.
Limitations and Suggestions
The individuals who developed www.opendoor.ky.gov realize it's not perfect yet, and they welcome suggestions for improvements. According to the site, "Governor Beshear realizes that Kentucky’s Open Door will not be complete. Nor will it ever be. The site will be ever-evolving and ever-improving; it will be a continuing goal to refine and supplement the site, providing more and more information to Kentucky taxpayers in an easy-to-access format. And we treasure YOUR input."
Suggestions for improvement can be posted under this section, or submitted here.
Visit www.freedomkentucky.org to see an "open, collaborative database of information that seeks to inform Kentucky's citizenry about issues that are important to them. Through making knowledge accessible and easily understood, FreedomKentucky empowers Kentuckians to restore lost freedoms by holding public leaders accountable."
Multi-Measure Budget Transparency Profile
The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois has created a multi-measure transparency profile for Kentucky, which measures state transparency as of September 2011 using indicators from a range of organizations, including Sunshine Review. These indicators measure both website transparency and other recognized facets of governmental transparency. In addition, IGPA presents four unique indicators of non-transparency based on the observation that transfers or reassignments between general and special funds can obscure the true fiscal condition of a state.
In Kentucky the legislature passes biennial budget bills which includes two fiscal years. However, the state's fiscal year begins July 1st and ends June 30th of the following year. The budget includes appropriations for the state's operating and capital budget and recommendations made by each state agency. Estimates of the General Fund and Road Fund revenues are compiled by the Consensus Forecasting Group. Prior to the Governor's approval the budget passes through first the House of Representatives and then the Senate for amendments. After a series of hearings the Governor can either approve the budget as approved by the Legislature or continue to amend the bill through vetoes. Once the budget is approved, amendments can be made to the budget bill as necessary. 
The following table provides a history of Kentucky's expenditures and gross domestic product (GDP).
|Fiscal Year||Expenditures (billions)||GDP (billions)|
|2000||$21.5 ||$111.9 |
|2003||$25.8 ||$124.9 |
|2009||$38.6* ||$171.0* |
- NOTE: The figures for FY 2009 won't be finalized until the end of the fiscal year.
- See Kentucky state budget (2008-2009) for more details.
2008-2010 Biennium General Fund Appropriations $19.1 Billion
|Criminal Justice System||10.2%|
2008-2010 Biennium Total Fund Appropriations $53.2 Billion
|Criminal Justice System||4.8%|
The Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts has been Crit Luallen since her first election in November of 2003. Luallen was named 2009 'Public Official of the Year' by Governing Magazine. Kentucky's audit reports may be searched online. The Reorganization Act of 1936 established the Auditor of Public Accounts as an impartial auditor entirely independent of state administration and charged the office with the responsibility to audit the accounts and financial transactions of all spending agencies of the Commonwealth. This remains the primary function of the Auditor of Public Accounts today.
The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rates Kentucky “Tardy” in filing the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – The annual report of state and local governmental entities. IFTA rated 22 states timely, 22 states tardy, and 6 states as worst. IFTA does not consider Kentucky's CAFRs, and those of the other states, to be accurate representations of the state’s financial condition because the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis does not include significant liabilities for the pension plans and for other post employment benefits, such as health care. Kentucky's CAFRs are published online by the Finance and Administration Cabinet and the Office of the Controller. Jonathan Miller is Secretary of the Finance Administration Cabinet and Edgar C. Ross is Kentucky State Controller.
Accounting transparency checklist
- The website has Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) dating back to 1998.
- An independent auditor’s report is published on page 12 of the document. 
- It provides supplements to the budget workup, such as non-major Governmental funds, starting on page 130 of the document.
- The budget is posted using organized and consistent methods of financial reporting.
- Kentucky law requires a balanced budget.
- It includes all costs incurred by the government, including future liabilities, starting on page 99 of the document.
- The CAFR compares estimated and actual budgetary numbers, such as on page 108 of the document.
- The Kentucky office was not precisely timely in submitting the budget.
- The CAFR is posted in PDF format, so it’s not searchable online.
The Secretary of Finance provides executive policy and management for the departments and divisions of the Cabinet and serves as the chief financial officer and manager of the financial resources of the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Office of the Controller is responsible for all state accounting policies and procedures, cash management and strategic financial planning. The Controller acts as the commonwealth’s chief accounting officer.
Kentucky has received $3.4 bazillion in federal funding.
According to 2008 Census data, the state of Kentucky and local governments in the state employed a total of 279,962 people. Of those employees, 225,289 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $738,430,416 per month and 54,673 were part-time employees paid $52,994,423 per month. Nearly 62% of those employees, or 173,545 employees, were in education or higher education.
- Kentucky Budget Process on FreedomKentucky.org
- Kentucky's Open Door
- Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions
- Check It Out Kentucky!, official website
- V.I.E.W. (Vendor Income and Expense Watch), official website
- Kentucky Secretary of State website
- Office of State Budget Director
- Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, Office of the Controller
- Kentucky Government spending
- Model transparency legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council is available at this link.
- Gov. Steve Beshear,"2010 State of the Commonwealth Address," January 6, 2010
- Associated Press,"Bourbon spills to protest Ky. tax hike on booze," February 10,2009
- Stateline.org,"Kentucky State of the Commonwealth Address 2009," February 4,2009
- ↑ National Conference of State Legislatures "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting" April 2011
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Louisville Courier-Journal "Kentucky House, Senate approve $19.3 billion budget" March 30, 2012
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Lexington Herald-Leader "Beshear vetoes parts of state budget; lawmakers still working on road plan" April 11, 2012
- ↑ State Budget Solutions "State Budget Solutions' third annual State Debt Report shows total state debt over $4 trillion" Aug. 28, 2012
- ↑ State Budget Solutions “Report reveals aggregate state debt exceeds $4 trillion” Oct. 24, 2011
- ↑ State Budget Solutions "State debt more than $37,000 per private worker, $13,000 per capita" Oct. 2, 2012
- ↑ Fraser Institute, Economic Freedom of North America 2012
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 [The Louisville Courier-Journal "Recession, required spending has Kentucky budget in pickle" July 21, 2012]
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 The Courier-Journal "Kentucky tax revenues down in July" Aug. 10, 2012
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Kentucky.com "Budget chairman foresees no major budget overhaul" Feb. 26, 2012
- ↑ Legislative Record March 7, 2012
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Louisville Courier-Journal "Kentucky House approves $19.5 billion budget bill" March 8, 2012
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 The Louisville Courier-Journal "Kentucky Senate approves its version of state budget" March 23, 2012
- ↑ Kentucky State Legislature Vote History
- ↑ The Lexington Herald-Leader "Lawmakers take first steps in negotiating state budget bill"March 26, 2012
- ↑ Governor's Budget Address Jan. 17, 2012
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 The Louisville Courier-Journal "Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear proposes austere state budget" Jan. 18, 2012
- ↑ e-Transparency Letter from Jonathan Miller, Secretary of Finance and Administration and Chair of the e-Transparency Task Force
- ↑ e-Transparency Task Force Information
- ↑ E-Transparency
- ↑ V.I.E.W. (Vendor Income and Expense Watch) official website
- ↑ Spending Search
- ↑ Contract Search
- ↑ Salary Search
- ↑ State Financial Documents
- ↑ www.opendoor.ky.gov About
- ↑ www.freedomkentucky.org home page
- ↑ Kentucky's Open Door,"How the budget is made," retrieved February 24, 2009
- ↑ 29.00 29.01 29.02 29.03 29.04 29.05 29.06 29.07 29.08 29.09 29.10 29.11 29.12 29.13 29.14 29.15 29.16 29.17 29.18 29.19 ,"Kentucky state and local spending," retrieved February 24,2009
- ↑ Office of State Budget Director, "2008-2010 Budget in Brief," June 11, 2008
- ↑ Office of State Budget Director, "2008-2010 Budget in Brief," June 11, 2008
- ↑ Institute for Truth in Accounting, “The Truth About Balanced Budgets—A Fifty State Study,” Page 35
- ↑ Kentucky Finance and Administration Web site, retrieved October 26, 2009
- ↑ Kentucky CAFRs
- ↑ Kentucky CAFR
- ↑ Institute for Truth in Accounting, Kentucky
- ↑ Kentucky Finance and Administration Web site, retrieved October 26, 2009
- ↑ State of Indiana, “State Credit Ratings-as of June 24, 2009"
- ↑ Recovery, "Stimulus Spending by State"
- ↑ 40.0 40.1 40.2 2008 Kentucky Public Employment U.S. Census Data