Every two years, the Kentucky General Assembly passes a budget in the form of four separate bills for the executive branch, legislative branch, judicial branch and the Transportation Cabinet. This budget establishes how the state will invest in education, health, transportation, public safety, human services and other areas that help build a strong state economy. However, the budget is only half of the picture: Equally important in building a strong state economy are the revenues that pay for these investments. Although there are many players involved in the process, the ultimate constitutional responsibility for both raising revenues and appropriating funds rests with the General Assembly. In fulfilling these two responsibilities, the General Assembly establishes the blueprint for Kentucky — who we are, what we value, what we aspire to be, and how and whether our communities prosper and flourish. The budget is the primary policy document of the commonwealth, and revenues provide the means by which those policies are carried out.
This primer provides a basic, high-level overview of how the budget is developed, considered, and enacted, and where the resources that support it come from. The primer also examines Kentucky’s fiscal health and makes the case that our current revenues are not sufficient to pay for the high quality public services that help to make Kentucky a good place to live, work and raise families; that empower homegrown entrepreneurs; and attract people to our state.