UPDATE: Budget bills add money for kindergarten, water projects

UPDATE POSTED 6:15 P.M. MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers advanced last-minute spending plans Tuesday to pump money into full-day kindergarten and water projects and to pay off unemployment insurance debts as the big-ticket budget items surfaced on the final day of the legislative session.

The proposals would tap into both state and federal funding as lawmakers continued finding uses for the massive infusion of pandemic relief headed to Kentucky. State government in Kentucky is expected to eventually receive about $2.4 billion from the federal aid package championed by President Joe Biden and passed by congressional Democrats.

One proposal contained $140 million in state funds to support full-day kindergarten. The measure won Senate passage on a bipartisan 36-1 vote soon after it was advanced by a committee. The measure was awaiting a House vote with a few hours left in the session.

Kentucky’s school districts now get state funding for half-day kindergarten, with districts using local taxpayer money to pay for full-day services.

The spending plan also included Gov. Andy Beshear’s proposal to use $575 million in federal pandemic aid to repay a federal loan that kept the state’s unemployment insurance program afloat. The program faced an unprecedented surge in jobless claims last year due to COVID-19.

The bill added another $50 million in federal money for broadband expansion. Lawmakers already had allocated $250 million of federal aid to extend broadband service to underserved areas.

A separate measure advanced Tuesday by the House budget committee would allocate $250 million in federal pandemic aid for water and wastewater projects in Kentucky. Beshear also has advocated using some of the federal money for such infrastructure work. The bill was sent to the House and would still require Senate approval before being sent to the governor.

Beshear and legislative leaders have tried to hash out a plan to spend at least part of the federal aid before the session ends. If lawmakers don’t decide how to spend the money, it could create a need for a special legislative session later in the year to make those decisions.

ORIGINAL BILL POSTED 3 P.M. TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers advanced a last-minute spending plan Tuesday that would pump money into full-day kindergarten as big-ticket budget items surfaced on the final day of the legislative session.

The spending proposal won Senate passage on a bipartisan 36-1 vote soon after it was advanced by a committee. The measure now goes to the House.

The proposal includes $140 million in state funds for full-day kindergarten

Kentucky’s school districts now get state funding for half-day kindergarten, with districts using local taxpayer money to pay for full-day services.

The bill adds another $50 million in federal money for broadband expansion. Lawmakers already have allocated $250 million of federal aid to extend broadband service to underserved areas.

State government in Kentucky is expected to eventually receive about $2.4 billion in federal pandemic aid. The governor and legislative leaders have been trying to hash out a plan to spend at least portions of the federal aid before the session ends.

The legislation is House Bill 382.

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