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Budget Negotiations To Begin In Frankfort

A conference committee made up of Kentucky House and Senate leaders now has the task of reconciling the two versions of a state budget passed by the chambers.The Senate plan was approved Monday by a vote of 36 to 2.Democrats Ernesto Scorsone and Julian Carroll cast the two 'no' votes.Unlike the House budget, the Senate version does not include a hike in the cigarette tax, but projects an increase in state lottery revenue and savings from a plan to reduce Kentucky's prison population.Republican Senator Julie Denton of Louisville told her colleagues that ironing out an agreement may be tough, but it was important to pass a budget to get to the negotiating table."We don't have many days left in which to come up with a budget, and I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't think most of the people in Kentucky would be too crazy (about coming back) for a special session. I know I personally would not," Denton said.There is just over a week left in the legislative session for leaders from the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-led Senate to agree on a budget.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.