The Kentucky Senate passed its version of the $20.3 billion, two-year state budget on Monday, containing more cash for state universities but less debt and fewer building projects than the House version approved last week.
Senate budget chairman Bob Leeper, a Paducah independent, said he was "very proud" that his chamber cut $1.51 billion in general fund and agency bond debt compared to the House version and stashed $25 million more in the state's "rainy day" reserve fund.
But this isn't the final word. Budget negotiations could begin as early as Tuesday evening between the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-led House and could continue for the next week. Legislative leaders in both chambers said they did not yet see any deal-breakers, and they're confident the legislature will send a budget to Beshear before it adjourns April 15. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said there appears to be enough "wiggle room on both sides" for a compromise.