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Kentucky Budget Facing $3.6 Billion Spending Gap

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Note: WFPL will broadcast live special coverage of Gov. Steve Beshear's State of the Commonwealth address at 7 tonight via KET. Tune in to 89.3 or stream at WFPL.org.  FRANKFORT — As lawmakers kick off the inaugural day of the 2014 General Assembly, the scope of the state's dire budgetary situation is coming into focus: Legislators will have to find a way to come up with $3.6 billion to fully fund budget requests from state agencies.For the next two fiscal years, Kentucky will need $3.6 billion to fully fund legislative, executive, judicial and department budget requests, according to data from the Office of the State Budget Director.Between the fiscal years of 2014 and 2016, the state's general fund will hold an estimated $19.8 billion. Total budgetary requests for that period are a staggering $23.5 billion.The largest requests come from the Kentucky Department of Education, which usually commands the lion's share of the budget, at $8.8 billion.The gap is much larger than previous estimates of the budget, and confirm what some are calling the state's worst economic outlook in recent memory.Jane Driskell, the state's budget director, has said that cuts are very likely as lawmakers work to come up with a budget.Gov. Steve Beshear will submit his budget proposal to the General Assembly on Jan. 21.Here's a breakdown of the requests by department and fiscal year.