U.S. SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER TO GIVE PRESENTATION AT SEPT. 12 IJC ON EDUCATION MEETING

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Commonwealth of Kentucky
Senate Majority Republican Leadership

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

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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SENATE PRESIDENT ROBERT STIVERS RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S SCHOOL BATHROOM PROPOSAL

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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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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PRESIDENT STIVERS FILES AMICUS BRIEF IN ROWAN COUNTY CLERK CASE

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Commonwealth of Kentucky
Office of Senate President Robert Stivers

For Immediate Release
September 2, 2015
Contact: John Cox
502-564-3120 ext. 202

SENATE PRESIDENT STIVERS FILES AMICUS BRIEF
IN ROWAN COUNTY CLERK CASE

FRANKFORT, Ky.  (Wednesday, September 2, 2015) – Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) filed an amicus curiae brief Wednesday evening.

“I am requesting Judge Bunning delay, withhold or temper his ruling in this case until the General Assembly has an opportunity to establish new frameworks under Kentucky law,” Senate President Stivers said. “The Supreme Court ruling has completely obliterated the definition of marriage and the process for obtaining a marriage license in Kentucky. The General Assembly will be compelled to amend many sections of Kentucky law, not just for the issuance of marriage licenses, to comply with the recent Supreme Court decision.”

Stivers’ brief places pertinent facts before U.S. District Judge David Bunning regarding the current state of Kentucky law and the legislative process. It emphasizes that under the Kentucky Constitution only one individual, the Governor, is vested with the power to call the General Assembly into an extraordinary session to act on time sensitive issues, just like this one.  It also points out that absent a special session the Governor may issue an executive order which could be codified by the General Assembly in January 2016.

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Note:  Senate President Robert Stivers represents the 25th District, which encompasses Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, and 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.

SENATE LEADERSHIP ANNOUNCES THREE APPOINTEES TO TEACHERS’ RETIREMENT WORK GROUP

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COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
SENATE MAJORITY LEADERSHIP OFFICE


For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox
502-564-3120 Ext. 202

SENATE LEADERSHIP ANNOUNCES THREE APPOINTEES TO TEACHERS’ RETIREMENT WORK GROUP

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 13, 2015) – Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) announced Monday the three Senate representatives who will be participating in Governor Beshear’s “Teachers’ Retirement Work Group” to address funding issues: Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), Senator Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro) and Senator Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville).

“It has been the position of the Senate Majority to seek a complete solution which combines structural reform with any additional funding,” Senator Thayer said. “We look forward to learning the structural solutions offered by this working group. We recognize that lasting structural changes will make any additional taxpayer funding of public pensions have a long-term impact that will benefit all Kentuckians.”

According to Governor Beshear’s office, “The work group will review best practices in other states regarding pension benefits, conduct a comprehensive review of funding options and make recommendations for improving the fiscal solvency of the KTRS. The work group may also contract for consulting services.”

Gov. Beshear also asked the work group to complete its work and submit its report to him on or before December 1, 2015.

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SENATE PRESIDENT STIVERS ON NEW STUDY FROM ASSET PRESERVATION ADVISORS:

SEAL
Commonwealth of Kentucky
Office of Senate President Robert Stivers

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

SENATE PRESIDENT STIVERS ON ASSET PRESERVATION ADVISORS’ RECENT STUDY:

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.

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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