KENTUCKY SENATE PASSES STRUCTURALLY BALANCED BUDGET TO FUND PENSIONS, STRENGTHEN FINANCIAL FOUNDATION

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox
859-492-2963
John.Cox@LRC.KY.GOV

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 23, 2016) – Addressing Kentucky’s underfunded pension systems was the top priority in the Senate’s version of House Bill (HB) 303, the state’s two-year budget, which passed the Kentucky Senate Wednesday with 27 votes.

“The major difference between the House budget and the Senate budget is that the Senate’s budget is structurally balanced, meaning we do not use one-time monies to pay for recurring expenses,” Senate President Robert Stivers said. “We dedicated more funding to KTRS than was proposed by Governor Bevin, but we also dedicated more funding in addition to the ARC payments for KRS nonhazardous than proposed by Governor Bevin and the House combined.”

While Senate Budget Chairman Chris McDaniel noted that Kentucky’s state’s pension obligation to teachers is of major importance, it also is funded at about 50 percent, or approximately three times more than that of our employee pension systems (17 percent). The Senate also sets aside $250 million for a permanent fund similar to Governor Bevin’s proposal. Of that permanent fund, $3 million would be used to commission an external performance audit of the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System, while holding the remaining $247 million to address the pensions upon completion of the audit.

“100 percent of the $250 million in the permanent fund will be used to fund our ailing pensions. The reason for waiting to spend this money is because we feel that an audit is necessary to adequately assess the issues that ail our systems,” McDaniel said. “We owe it to the taxpayers of this Commonwealth to bring in an outside party so that we can get an honest audit of this system and identify what systematic changes must be made to ensure this system is viable in perpetuity.”

The Senate budget also provides $372.5 million for the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, which is the highest amount in the Commonwealth’s history.

Additional highlights of the Senate’s budget (HB 303):

  • Included in the Kentucky Retirement Systems’ numbers is $15 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and $10 million in FY 2018 for Kentucky State Police Hazardous Retirement.
  • The Senate, like Governor Bevin, did not budget to 100 percent of the revenue estimate. The Senate provides for additional contingent contributions of $67.9 million to KTRS over the 2016-2018 biennium.
  • The Senate moved all coal severance funding to the top which includes funding for Operation Unite, Save the Children, Trover Clinic, the Family Residency Program at Owensboro, and other routine items funded with coal severance. The remaining dollars are directed to the LGEAF fund which goes directly back to the county judges and fiscal court.
  • There are no single county line-item coal severance projects in the Senate budget.
  • The Senate does not change the statutory allocation between General Fund and the coal severance fund. The split remains 50-50.
  • The Senate budget mirrors the Governor’s proposal and stays true to the HB 611 from the 2000 Regular Session’s statutory allocations.
  • Constitutional Officers – The Senate agrees with Governor Bevin’s budget stabilization reductions and in certain places increases restricted fund appropriations.
  • Pharmaceutical Settlement Funds – The Senate directs $7 million to Kentucky State Police for crime lab equipment and DNA testing, provides $2.5 million to community mental health centers for mental health services, and $8 million for KTRS unfunded health liability.
  • Debt – The Governor, House and Senate had a debt ratio of approximately 5.8 percent, however, the House budget gave complete bonding authority to the state universities for agency bonded projects without the authority of the General Assembly. That provision has the potential to significantly increase the Commonwealth’s debt ratio without input for the General Assembly. The Senate removed this provision but did include authorization for the restricted fund cash projects for the public universities and KCTCS.
  • Higher Education – The Senate agrees with Governor Bevin’s budget stabilization reductions and provides equity in funding beginning in FY 2018 for Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University. In addition, the Senate provided an additional $3.3 million each for the land grant match for Kentucky State University.
  • Justice Cabinet – In the midst of a heroin epidemic, the House reduced funding for heroin treatment by $12 million. The Senate restores that funding.
  • The Senate, like Governor Bevin, has a structurally balanced budget.

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Anti-Heroin Compromise Reached

SEAL

Commonwealth of Kentucky 
Office of Senator Chris McDaniel

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox
502-564-3120

ANTI-HEROIN COMPROMISE BILL ON ITS WAY TO GOVERNOR’S DESK

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 24, 2015) – After working countless hours since April to construct a bill to fight Kentucky’s heroin epidemic, I am pleased to announce the passage of Senate Bill 192. SB 192 is a compromise between the House and Senate and I cannot thank my colleagues enough for helping pass this vital legislation.

This bill will provide increased punishments for heroin traffickers and dealers as well as provide greater treatment for those addicted to the deadly drug. An emergency clause was placed on SB 192, and Governor Beshear has announced that he will sign the bill into law at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Capitol Room 110.

I would like to thank all members of the General Assembly for their dedication to passage of anti-heroin legislation this session, the various interest groups who have weighed in and the family members of victims who have testified.

Northern Kentucky has been hit harder than most any area across the nation from the impacts of heroin and I pray that this bill is another step forward to end the distribution of this drug in my home community and begin to save lives.


This Week in Social Media (Jan. 19-23)

Tweets and Facebook postings from the Senate Majority Caucus (week of Jan. 19-23, 2015):

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SENATE WRAPS UP PART ONE OF KY G.A. ’15 BY APPROVING FOUR PRIORITY BILLS

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Friday, Jan. 9, 2014) – After successfully passing the “heroin bill” and “right-to-work” bill on Thursday, the Kentucky Senate approved two more pieces of legislation (referred to as an “administrative regulations” bill and an “informed consent” bill) on Friday morning to close out ‘part one’ of the two-part, 2015 legislative session.

Immediately following Thursday’s session which passed Senate Bills 1 and 5, the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee met to hear Senator Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville)-sponsored Senate Bill 4, which redefines current law by requiring that a woman considering an abortion have a face-to-face meeting with her physician before following through with the procedure. After hearing testimony from a group of supporters, the measure was reported out of committee favorably.

Following the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee meeting, the Senate State and Local Government Committee met to hear Chairman and primary bill sponsor Sen. Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro) present Senate Bill 2, which would prevent the executive branch of state government from administrating regulations found deficient by the General Assembly. Senate Bill 2 also was reported out of committee favorably and both bills were approved on the Senate floor Friday morning.

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“I was pleased with what we were able to accomplish in this four-day period,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said Friday. “We wanted to send the message that the Senate is here to lead, to be bold and to get things done in Frankfort.

“Every piece of legislation we acted on this week touched on the goals we’ve outlined this session – to create Kentucky jobs and strengthen Kentucky families. I think it was a successful four days and we plan to build on this momentum as we move toward part two of the session in February.”