Kentucky finally has a budget bill in place to cover spending for its upcoming 2009-10 biennium, including a supplemental appropriation bill for bond funding of water and sewer needs and a bridge project.

Lawmakers plan $150 million of bonds for water and sewer projects. Roughly $231 million of grant anticipation revenue vehicles would be used for a Louisville bridge project.

The bills are now headed to Gov. Steve Beshear for signing and all indications are that Beshear will sign off on the $19 billion budget.

The new budget includes most of the funding the governor proposed cutting in higher education. It does not include new taxes. Base school funding for public schools was also preserved, and that includes funding for textbooks for elementary and secondary education and programs like Safe Schools and Read to Achieve.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Ed Worley, D-Richmond, expressed satisfaction on the budget's end result.

"For the first time in memory, we will have a budget where in both years of the biennium, spending is less than in the current baseline," he said.

Officials report that capital construction was largely limited to safety, health, and other emergency needs, including needs at Fort Knox, which will be expanding in the near future. Money to prepare for the 2008 Ryder Cup in Louisville and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington was also included. That event is expected to bring $100 million to the state.

To further enhance school construction, additional dollars were included.

Lawmakers are expected to return to session on Monday to pass any bills that have not been acted upon so far.

Kentucky does not issue general obligation bonds, but it instead sells appropriation-backed debt through several different agencies. Today is the deadline for bankers wishing to serve as senior underwriting manager for the state for deals coming up for the Kentucky Turnpike Authorityduring fiscal 2009 and 2010. Today is also the deadline for bond counsel firms wishing to work with the turnpike authority.

By April 28 of this year, the state has asked for bond counsel firms to submit their proposals to work for the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corp.

Kentucky has an issuer rating of Aa2 from Moody's Investors Service and AA-minus from Standard & Poor's.


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