FRANKFORT, Ky. — In the Kentucky House of Representatives Thursday, lawmakers passed two bills that make up the state's next two-year budget.

What You Need To Know

  • The House has passed its two major budget bills

  • It came after more than three hours of floor debate

  • House Bill 1 and House Bill 6 now go to the Senate

  • A final budget must be completed by mid-April

House Bill 1, which covers several one-time expenses, passed unanimously.

House Bill 6, which covers the state’s operational budget, passed 77-19.

The two bills now head to the State Senate for further discussion. 

The amended versions of both bills were approved by lawmakers during a Wednesday afternoon committee meeting. They include several small changes, but the overall price tag remains similar. 

Under the new versions of the bills, per-student Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding will increase 6% over two years, student transportation will be fully funded in the second budget year and an additional $100 million will be taken from the state's “rainy day” fund to go toward major infrastructure projects. 

The budget encourages school districts to use the additional funding, thanks to more than $1.3 billion in additional education funds for teacher raises. 

“When we look at how we're going to push money into districts to assist, the SEEK formula’s about all we have," said State Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton. "If you press it in and some other manner, you're going to widen the disparities if you don't watch out." 

This budget does not fund universal pre-K or across the board school staff raises, both key items of Gov. Andy Beshear’s, D-Ky., proposal. 

“If we don't start raising up the pay for teachers, we are going to continue to see the kind of brain drain that we just cannot tolerate if we want to have a good, solid education for Kentuckians,” Minority Whip State Rep. Rachel Roberts, D-Newport, said. 

Roberts said she would like to see more money go toward cleaner water projects and to the affordable housing trust fund, which this budget currently does not support. 

On legislative procedure, Roberts said she's concerned these bills were fast tracked and do not give Kentuckians enough time to express concerns about them.

HB 1 and HB 6 both passed on the House floor one day after its last committee meeting. The updated language of the bills was also not made available on the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) website, where information about bills is posted before discussions on the two bills began in the House.

“If we can't get our amendments to be in order because they're fast tracking bills through, then we've lost the ability to carry our constituents' voices adequately into this process,” Roberts said. 

The bills will now go to the Senate where ITS lawmakers are expected to make their own changes to the spending plan. Both chambers have until mid-April to finalize a budget.