Commonwealth of Kentucky
Senate Majority Republican Leadership

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox

FRANKFORT, Ky. (September 7, 2016) – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), chairman of the U.S. Senate’s education committee and primary author of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will join the Interim Joint Committee on Education in Frankfort on Monday, September 12, to discuss the new education law and outline the opportunities and implications for Kentucky’s General Assembly to realign education policy in the state. The meeting is slated to begin at 10 a.m. EDT and Sen. Alexander is expected to give his presentation at approximately 11 a.m. local time.

“Senator Alexander has been a leader on education reform as Governor of Tennessee, as U.S. Education Secretary, and as a United States Senator,” said Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green), who will chair the September 12 Education meeting. “Through Senator Alexander’s intellect and persuasive nature, he attracted support from the National Education Association in his efforts to reduce Federal overreach in our schools. We share a similar view that individual states should be the ones determining the best academic standards, state assessments, and accountability as well as teaching methods for their students.”

Alexander’s testimony will cover the provisions of a new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

“We are excited to welcome this high-profile guest to Frankfort to lead a discussion that is long overdue,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said. “I admire Senator Alexander for his commitment to strengthening education across the United States, and I appreciate him for taking the time to address this committee.”

In 2016, the nation’s governors created the James Madison Award to recognize members of Congress who support federalism and the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing states’ rights. The governors named Sen. Lamar Alexander as the first-ever recipient of the award for his work to fix No Child Left Behind. The new education law Alexander worked to pass was signed by the president in December 2015. The Wall Street Journal called it “the largest devolution of federal power to the states in a quarter century.”

In 2013, the National Conference of State Legislatures gave Sen. Alexander and three other senators its “Restoring the Balance” Award for protecting states’ rights, the first time in 10 years the organization gave this award to U.S. senators.

Alexander, a seventh-generation Tennessean born and raised in Maryville, was twice elected governor of Tennessee. He has always believed that in most cases the best decisions are made by those closest to the people.

Today, Alexander chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he is working on legislation to bring safe drugs and medical devices to doctors’ offices and patients’ medicine cabinets more quickly.

Alexander is also chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, where he works to boost funding for basic energy research and invest in our inland waterways and harbors.

Alexander was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and has been reelected twice. His Republican colleagues elected him three times to be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

He has previously served as president of the University of Tennessee and as U.S. Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 13, 2016) – The following is a statement from Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers on the recent school bathroom proposal from President Barack Obama:

With complete disregard for the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, President Barack Obama on Friday directed every school in the nation to provide access to transgender bathrooms, threatening to take federal funding away from any school that does not comply.”

“This is yet another example of indefensible overreach by President Obama, illustrating just how out of touch his administration has been with the values of Kentucky families. I firmly believe that this should be a local issue and I am prepared to fight for the safety of our students in Kentucky.”

“I would also like to encourage our Democratic colleagues in the Senate and the House to join us in this important fight against federal overreach.”

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Commonwealth of Kentucky
Office of Senate President Robert Stivers

For Immediate Release
June 17, 2015
Contact: John Cox
502-564-3120 ext. 202


It has always been the Senate’s position that we will fix the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System’s (KTRS) pension problem.  The House Democrats’ solution of pension bonds is not the answer to the problem. A recent study released from Asset Preservation Advisors recommended investors to remain “highly selective” when purchasing bonds issued in our state.

This message comes as no surprise to the Senate Majority Caucus, as we were not willing to accept the $3.3 billion bond proposal from House Democrats proposed in House Bill 4 earlier this year. While we fully acknowledge the Commonwealth’s unfunded liability to KTRS, we were not about to risk further lowering our state’s credit rating by issuing the single greatest debt in the history of the Kentucky General Assembly.

When neither chamber could reach an agreement on House Bill 4, a conference committee was formed. We brought in a representative from the Governor’s Budget Office who said that would be impossible for our state to sell $3.3 billion in bonds in the proposed time of one year and that it would be extremely difficult and risky to sell even $1 billion in bonds. At that moment we knew the original language of HB 4 was no more than a political move by House Democrats, yet we kept working for a compromise.

Senate and House Republicans proposed the formation of a task force to analyze KTRS in order to identify systematic changes to make KTRS viable in perpetuity. We also proposed a good faith contribution to KTRS in the form of $50 million identified in the Budget Reserve Trust Fund. This was real money offered to a seriously underfunded system, but unfortunately, House Democrats walked away from our proposal leaving the $50 million on the table.

As recently as the last Legislative Research Committee meeting on June 3, Senate and House Republicans have asked for Gov. Beshear to follow through with our idea of a KTRS Task Force. We desperately need to take action to address our unfunded liability to KTRS, but we also must be responsible to taxpayers across the Commonwealth, which is why a comprehensive analysis is a vital first step to addressing teacher pension concerns.

The Governor has answered our call as he has assembled a “Work Group” for this very issue. We are appreciative to the Governor for realizing the severity of the KTRS problems and for taking some type of action in order to put Kentucky teacher pensions back on the right track.

I will be appointing two Senate members to this work group, whom I will announce in the near future.

This will not be an easy process but rest assured we are committed to our teachers and all Kentuckians and will continue to do what is right for the Commonwealth.


Note:  Senate President Robert Stivers represents the 25th District, which encompasses Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe counties.  He serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Committees and Rules Committee and the co-chair of the Legislative Research Commission.  Additionally, President Stivers is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  For a high-resolution .jpeg of President Stivers, please visit http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/Senate25.htm



Commonwealth of Kentucky
Office of Senate President Robert Stivers

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2015
Contact: John Cox
502-564-3120 Ext. 202


“It is beyond disappointing that House Democrats rejected our offer of an immediate good-faith cash infusion into the teachers’ retirement fund, combined with a framework to find the long term reforms necessary to stabilize the system. There is no crisis that requires $3.3 billion in new debt; the fund can make payments for the next 21 years.”

“No teacher is going to miss a pension payment in the near future. What we offered was a good faith responsible plan, and we are disappointed it was rejected. Passing House Bill 4 added billions in new debt, risked a credit rating downgrade for the state, and simply kicked the can down the road for a few more years. That’s not good governance; that’s just irresponsible.”

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Note: Senator Stivers represents the 25th District, which encompasses Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe counties. He serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Committees and Rules Committee and the co-chair of the Legislative Research Commission. Additionally, Senator Stivers is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senate President Stivers, please visit http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/senate25.htm