Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Legislative Inaction Will Close Vital Services, Governor Warns
Gov. Beshear instructs Cabinets to prepare shutdown plans if legislature fails to pass a budget by July 1
FRANKFORT, Ky. – If the General Assembly fails to pass a budget by July 1, some vital state services will be forced to close, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today. The Governor instructed Cabinet secretaries to begin planning for a partial shutdown if the legislature does not meet that deadline. In addition, he sent a letter to all members of the General Assembly outlining areas that may be impacted by a partial shutdown.
“I am actively working with legislative leadership to reach agreement on a budget as soon as possible,” Gov. Beshear said. “But we must know the implications of what we are facing if a budget is not enacted.”
This is the first time in Kentucky’s history that state services could be shuttered due to a lack of an enacted budget. A 2005 Kentucky Supreme Court decision (Fletcher v. Commonwealth) holds that the only expenditures allowable are those mandated by the Kentucky Constitution, the federal government or state statute.
While the parameters of the court decision have not been tested, Gov. Beshear said it does seem clear that all Kentucky State Parks, all tourism programs, the Cabinet for Economic Development and Office of the Medical Examiner will be shut down, and state-provided mine safety inspections and mine rescue teams will end.
In addition, the court case may require the termination of state funding for State Police, Vehicle Enforcement, veterans’ nursing homes, regulatory and licensing agencies, and existing road projects. Public colleges, universities, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System will likely lose state funding. Programs supported by Health and Family Services, including Medicaid, mental health hospitals, public health departments and aging services, may also face the loss of state money.
Gov. Beshear repeated that these lists are not comprehensive and his staff continues to review the complicated myriad federal and state laws that impact spending. Some services that receive a portion of their operating funds from state government may be so adversely affected that they will be forced to close.
In a letter to legislators, the Governor reiterated that the General Assembly must pass a budget by June 1, 2010 in order to preserve significant debt service and other savings that both chambers utilized in their budget drafts. Additionally, if the General Assembly is unable to reach an agreement on a budget, the administration will need at least a month to prepare for a partial shutdown of state government.
“I encourage you in the strongest possible terms to work cooperatively with your fellow legislators and your leadership to reach a compromise on the budget as soon as possible,” wrote Gov. Beshear. “The people of this State demand no less.”
Download a copy of Gov. Beshear's letter to the Generaly Assembly (PDF)
Listen to Gov. Beshear's remarks at the press conference (MP3)
Watch Gov. Beshear deliver his remarks on YouTube