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The final main tax improve in Kentucky occurred in 1990, and that handed solely after the Kentucky Supreme Courtroom dominated that the state public faculty system was unconstitutional.
Mary Ann Gerth/Courier-Journal/USA TODAY Community

FRANKFORT, Ky. — State prosecutors from round Kentucky warned lawmakers Friday that budget cuts of 17 percent sought by Gov. Matt Bevin could shut down the state’s criminal justice system.

“The criminal justice system will come to a halt,” said Warren Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron, speaking before the joint House-Senate Judiciary Committee.

“We’re looking at a huge impact,” Cohron said. “I don’t think any prosecutor in good conscience would be able to implement these cuts and protect their community appropriately.”

Kenton Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said local prosecutors, faced with rising caseloads fueled in part by the state’s drug epidemic, have “zero” room to cut their budgets and do their jobs.

“We literally have no fat in the budget,” he said.

Bevin has proposed cuts of 17 percent for most state agencies in the current fiscal year to make up for an expected budget shortfall.

But Cohron and Sanders, representing the state Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Association, along with about a dozen county attorneys who attended Friday’s meeting, said the reductions would require such deep staff cuts that offices couldn’t function.

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Christian County Attorney Mike Foster said such cuts “would be devastating — beyond devastating.”

Committee members expressed concern without offering any immediate solutions.

“It’s ugly,” said Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Hopkinsville Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It is my hope these folks can be spared.”

Kentucky has 57 commonwealth’s attorneys, who prosecute felony crimes, and 120 county attorneys who prosecute misdemeanor offenses and handle a host of other matters, including child support, child abuse, elder abuse or exploitation, guardianship, mental inquest warrants and domestic violence petitions.

Both commonwealth’s…