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HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
April 3, 2018

FRANKFORT— A $22 billion state spending plan that would restore some funding cuts proposed by the governor while ensuring that Kentucky fully funds its public pension systems was sent to the governor on Monday after receiving final passage on a 59-36 vote in the House.

Pension funding is where most of the new spending in House Bill 200 would go, with over $3 billion added to the budget by us lawmakers to fully fund Kentucky’s public employee and teacher retirement plans over the next two years. Additional dollars in the legislation include $59.5 million next fiscal year to cover health insurance for some retired teachers who are not yet Medicare eligible, among other provisions.

While the budget still includes 6.25 percent baseline cuts for most state agencies as recommended by the governor, we knew that a few agencies—including the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Kentucky State Police, and local school-based Kentucky Family Resource and Youth Services Centers, or FRYSCs—were in desperate need of having their funding restored. The FRYSCs alone will receive an additional $4.1 million in state dollars this fiscal year and $9.7 million in each of the next two fiscal years to restore the governor’s proposed cuts.

For K-12 education, HB 200 would boost base per-pupil funding for K-12 education, or SEEK, to a record-high level of $4,000 per student in each fiscal year. It would also increase school transportation funding to $127.8 million in each year of the budget cycle to help meet the pupil transportation needs of Kentucky’s school districts. And it would add over $10 million next fiscal year to help 31 school districts replace lost revenues following a drop in the assessment on unmined coal, among other provisions.

For postsecondary education, HB 200 in its final form includes more than $227 million for need-based scholarships and grants. It also adds $62 million over the biennium in state funds for the Postsecondary Education Performance Fund which is designed to modernize how the state funds its public colleges and universities, as well as provide millions of dollars in funding for other higher education needs.

HB 200 also includes more than $60 million in new revenue to help implement proposed adoption and foster care reforms including more than $23 million for placement of foster children with relatives, tens of millions of dollars to hire more social workers and increase social worker salaries, and at least $5 million for kinship care.

Additional funds for public safety are also found in the bill, which would appropriate over $85 million in federal funds to support victims of crime programs. Yet other provisions would add $10 million to hire 94 additional Youth Workers for the Department of Juvenile Justice and around $6 million to hire more prosecutors, along with additional funding in other areas.

Public libraries would also get a boost in the bill, which would add over $8.5 million in state funds in direct local aid for the institutions. And KentuckyWired – the state’s open-access broadband network now under construction through a public/private partnership – would receive no state General Fund appropriations but would receive over $70 million in non-governmental expense (NGE) spending authority over the biennium to continue work that project.

Kentucky prohibits its state budget revenue from being included in its spending bills, so we had to approve revenue for HB 200 separately. The funding required to carry out appropriations in the two-year spending plan is found in HB 366, also now before the governor for his signature.

HB 366 — which only narrowly passed both chambers in Monday’s 51-44 final vote in the House and 20-18 vote in the Senate— is expected to raise nearly half a billion dollars in new revenue for the state over the next two years by a combination of personal and corporate tax changes, expanding the state sales tax to some services, and a 50-cent per pack increase in the state cigarette tax.

The reason that House and Senate leadership most wanted to get HB 200 and HB 366 to the governor’s desk on Monday is that doing so gives us as lawmakers the ability to consider overriding any vetoes to the bills issued by the governor during the current veto recess. A simple majority vote by both chambers can override any possible vetoes when we return from the recess to conclude the 2018 Regular Session on April 13 and 14.

The same is true of any vetoes the governor may issue to the Legislative Branch budget in HB 204 and the Judicial Branch budget in HB 203. HB 204, which fully funds the pensions of legislative staff but does not fund the Legislators Retirement Plan, received final passage on a House vote of 86-8 on Monday, with HB 203 receiving final passage that day on a House vote of 81-9. Because we passed the bills in advance of the veto recess, we can consider overriding any vetoes to those bills when we return to the Capitol in mid-April.

I also need to report that we beat the veto-recess buzzer and gave final passage Monday to a $2.5 billion state Road Plan. The plan includes road and bridge construction, repair and repaving projects all across the Commonwealth. They are projects that we need to keep Kentucky’s roads and highways safe while providing solid infrastructure to attract modern industry.

Legislation found in HB 1 to reform the state’s foster care and adoption system was also given final passage in the House on Monday, as was legislation found in HB 185 to safeguard line-of-duty death benefits for families of Kentucky’s first responders and hazardous duty employees. Over in the Senate, final passage was given to Senate Bill 5 – a bill that will ensure fair Medicaid reimbursement to independent pharmacists—among other bills.

This is just some of the legislation that is on its way to joining more than 100 bills and resolutions that have already become law this session. Still more legislation will make its way to the governor before we adjourn the 2018 Regular Session for good on April 14.

Please continue to follow any and all legislative action of interest to you during the 2018 Regular Session by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. For committee meeting schedules, please call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650. Or, to comment on a bill, please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181.

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For Immediate Release

April 2, 2018

 

$22 billion state spending plan receives final passage

FRANKFORT— A $22 billion state spending plan that would restore some funding cuts proposed by the governor while ensuring that Kentucky fully funds its public pension systems has received final passage in the House after being approved by the Senate earlier today.

House Bill 200 was given final approval on a House vote of 59-36. The Senate approved the bill on a vote of 25-13.

Pension funding is where most of the new spending in HB 200 would go, with billions of dollars slated to fully fund Kentucky’s public employee and teacher retirement plans over the next two years. Additional dollars in the legislation include $59.5 million next fiscal year to cover health insurance for some retired teachers who are not yet Medicare eligible, among other provisions.

While the budget still includes 6.25 percent baseline cuts for most state agencies as recommended by the governor, a few agencies—including the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Kentucky State Police, and local school-based Kentucky Family Resource and Youth Services Centers, or FRYSCs—will have their funding restored. The FRYSCs alone will receive an additional $4.1 million in state dollars this fiscal year and $9.7 million in each of the next two fiscal years to restore their proposed cuts.

For K-12 education, HB 200 would boost base per-pupil funding for K-12 education, or SEEK, to a record level of $4,000 per student in each fiscal year. It would also increase school transportation funding to $127.8 million in each year of the budget cycle to help meet the pupil transportation needs of Kentucky’s school districts. And it would add over $10 million next fiscal year to help 31 school districts replace lost revenues following a drop in the assessment on unmined coal, among other provisions.

For postsecondary education, HB 200 in its final form includes more than $227 million for need-based scholarships and grants. It also adds $62 million over the biennium in state funds for the Postsecondary Education Performance Fund which is designed to modernize how the state funds its public colleges and universities, as well as provide millions of dollars in funding for other higher education needs.

HB 200 also includes more than $60 million in new revenue to help implement proposed adoption and foster care reforms including more than $23 million for placement of foster children with relatives, tens of millions of dollars to hire more social workers and increase social worker salaries, and at least $5 million for kinship care.

Additional funds for public safety are also found in the bill, which would appropriate over $85 million in federal funds to support victims of crime programs. Yet other provisions would add $10 million to hire 94 additional Youth Workers for the Department of Juvenile Justice and around $6 million to hire more prosecutors, along with additional funding in other areas.

Public libraries would also get a boost in the bill, which would add over $8.5 million in state funds in direct local aid for the institutions.  And KentuckyWired – the state’s open-access broadband network now under construction through a public/private partnership – would receive no state General Fund appropriations but would receive over $70 million in non-governmental expense (NGE) spending authority over the biennium to continue work that project.

Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chair Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, said HB 200 would provide a structurally balanced budget for the first time in more than two decades. He did, however, admit that its passage is a “hard process.”

“I have no doubt that 123 years ago it was designed to be a hard process,” McDaniel said. “But ultimately we have to come together and do what’s best for the commonwealth and for 4.3 million people who count on us to ensure the appropriate functions of their government continue.”

Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray S. Jones II, D-Pikeville, stood to speak against HB 200. He said he was concerned about reductions in higher education funding and the lack money for safety measures in secondary schools. “It is still a bad budget that does not fund education as it should be,” he said. “It does not meet the needs of the state.”

Also speaking in opposition to the bill in the House was Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, who said the 6.25 percent cuts to most agencies that remain in HB 200 combined with certain other provisions in the bill will “continue to hurt Kentucky.”

“We can do better than this,” Wayne said. “Collectively, we have to agree that we’re on a mission to invest in this great Commonwealth, not disinvest.”

House Appropriations and Revenue Chair Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, said the free conference committee appointed on March 22 by the House and Senate to reach agreement on HB 200 listened to Kentuckians when drafting the legislation.

“A lot of hard work, a lot of compromise, has gone into it,” said Rudy. “We listened … to the concerns in the areas from the people across the Commonwealth and tried to craft the best document for the taxpayers, and the citizens, and those who are involved in state government.”

Kentucky prohibits its state budget revenue from being included in its spending bills, so the revenue for the next two-year state budget is approved separately by state lawmakers. The funding required to carry out the appropriations in HB 200 is found in HB 366, which also received final passage in the House today. That bill passed on a final vote of 51-44 after clearing the Senate on a vote of 20-18.

HB 200 now goes to the governor to be signed into law. If the governor vetoes the bill, the General Assembly can override that veto when it returns to Frankfort to conclude the session in mid-April after a brief veto recess. That recess is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Also given final passage today was the state Legislative Branch budget in HB 204 and the Judicial Branch budget in HB 203. HB 204, which fully funds the pensions of legislative staff but does not fund the Legislators Retirement Plan, received final passage on a House vote of 86-8. HB 203 received final passage on a House vote of 81-9. The two bills had passed the Senate on votes of 36-2 and 26-12 respectively last month.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

October 30, 2017

Contact:
Larry D. Brown
Prestonsburg, KY 41653

LARRY D. BROWN ADDRESSES PENSION ISSUE

All eyes are on Frankfort as a Legislative Special Session is expected to be announced soon. The issue in question is the stability and sustainability of the retirement systems for state workers and a proposed alternative system designed to address the current unfunded liability. Those impacted by the proposed changes are keenly aware of how their retirement will be affected should the new system be implemented and are equally cognizant of the looming dangers if the current unfunded liability situation is not addressed.

Larry D. Brown, State Representative for the 95th District, took part in public symposiums and met with groups and individuals affected by the proposed changes. He announced Monday his stance on the proposed plan that was released earlier this month.

“I simply can’t, in good conscience, vote for this legislation as currently proposed,” Brown said. “State employees entered into their contracts under certain guidelines and expectations. Had they failed to meet their obligations under that contract they would have been terminated. How can we hold state employees to a higher standard and expect them to accept changes that negatively impact the rest of their lives?”

Brown believes that there are ways to address the current crisis without penalizing state employees for a situation they did not create.

“The state must identify additional sources of revenue to address the unfunded liability,” Brown said. “It would be unfair to expect our state workers to be held solely responsible for a situation over which they had no control.”

Brown said that his first responsibility is to the 95th District.

“I have an obligation to represent the residents of my district,” Brown said. “It is clear that the current proposal is not acceptable to those individuals who are directly impacted by it.”


Larry D. Brown For State Representative
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