After House Democrats proposed a plan which they felt was a compromise Tuesday morning, Senate Republicans came back after a lunch break with a counter proposal that would make some concessions to what the House wants but not their top priorities such as restoring funding to higher education.
Senate Republican leadership came back to the conference committee after a short 45 minute lunch break with their version of a compromise which would put more money toward the state’s retirement systems than the House had proposed while providing for a $250 million permanent fund as well.
However, in the House version of a compromise bill, they decided to stay with sweeping the entire $500 million out of the public employees’ health trust fund and put $250 million of that in a permanent fund and used the other half to fund items like restoring nine percent cuts to higher education.
The Senate Republicans expressed concern about sweeping the money from the health trust fund and putting it in the general fund for use in other areas. So instead, they put that $250 million back in the health trust fund and used the other half for the permanent fund.
In the newest proposal, Senate GOP also used their original budget as a baseline and funded the pension systems over and above the ARCs, while also conceding to some of the requests made by House Democrats before the lunch break including an appropriation for the judicial branch, restoring funding to the constitutional officers and more.
After the changes made by the Senate, $19 million is left on the table to negotiate between the two sides.
See the numbers from the Senate’s compromise proposal in the image below:
House Speaker Greg Stumbo expressed disappointment in the Senate counter proposal because of the lack of restoration to cuts to the state’s colleges and universities and other areas of education.
Stumbo said his caucus came to the table with a compromise that took a little from each plan that has been put forth in order to give the pension systems the funding levels Bevin suggested, a permanent fund called for by Bevin and the GOP and the funding for higher education that House Democrats want.
Watch video coverage of the meeting below:
The conference committee left the room with no agreements made and each side asking the other to re-evaluate their proposals.
Leaders from both the House and Senate agreed that language spelling out exactly how a permanent fund will be used should be moved through the legislative process. Stivers said the language will be attached to House Bill 238 and sent through committee.
The budget conference committee is scheduled to reconvene again at 5 pm on Tuesday.
Continue following budget updates on The Bottom Line.