FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear will meet with legislative leaders Wednesday to discuss the state's finances and could announce as early as Wednesday his plans to rectify a nearly $1 billion shortfall.
Beshear, at a news conference in Louisville on Tuesday, said he could make a decision on what will be on the agenda of a June 15 special legislative session after he talks to legislative leaders.
Leaders from the House and Senate are expected to meet with Beshear on Wednesday morning.
Beshear did not say Tuesday whether a proposal pushed by the horse industry and several key legislators to place slot machines at Kentucky race tracks would be on the agenda. That would be one of several issues that the governor will talk to legislative leaders about, said Jay Blanton, a spokesman for Beshear.
The Consensus Forecasting Group on Friday said the state's projected revenues for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be about $996 million short of the enacted budget of $9.3 billion. Beshear, citing several state statutes and language in previous budget bills, said on Friday that the legislature had to be called for a special session to address the deficit because the shortfall was greater than 5 percent of expected revenues.
Democratic Majority Caucus Chair Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said the governor has not asked him what should be on the agenda for the special session. Damron said he expects Wednesday's meeting will give legislators an overview of the state's finances and the numbers generated by the Consensus Forecasting Group.
Beshear sent a letter to legislators Tuesday outlining his position on why a special legislative session needed to be called.
"Obviously, we would like to go into the session with an agreement," Damron said.
First, Beshear and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, will have to agree on whether a special legislative session is needed.
Williams, R-Williamsburg, is expected to try to convince Beshear Wednesday not to call a special session.
"I expect that to be part of the conversation," said Williams spokeswoman Lourdes Baez-Schrader.
Williams argues that the budget deficit is not $996 million as the Consensus Forecasting Group suggests. Williams said the shortfall is closer to $130 million — which is the difference between the revenue projections for the next fiscal year and the revenue generated this year. Williams has said Beshear could manage the shortfall with a combination of cuts and federal stimulus money.
Damron said Tuesday he has not heard whether Beshear will add other legislation that did not pass earlier this year to the agenda of the special session. That legislation would include a revamp of the state's economic incentive programs or a bill that would fund major transportation projects such as bridges for Louisville and Henderson.