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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SENATOR SCHRODER RESPONDS TO COMMENTS FROM CINCINNATI P.D. CAPT. HEROLD:

SEALCommonwealth of Kentucky
Office of Senator Wil Schroder

For Immediate Release
May 29, 2015
Contact: John Cox
502-564-3120 ext. 202

SENATOR SCHRODER’S RESPONSE TO COMMENTS FROM CINCINNATI POLICE CAPTAIN MARIS HEROLD:

I was disturbed, to say the least, reading the comments from Cincinnati police Captain Maris Herold on May 28. Capt. Herold was quoted by the Enquirer as saying, “Hopefully, we can push crime into Kentucky. I don’t care if you quote me at this point.” According to the Enquirer, the quote was a response to the uptick in violent crime in the city of Cincinnati.

As a former prosecutor, I am aware that the main supply of heroin for Northern Kentucky addicts comes from Cincinnati. So, to be clear, Northern Kentucky does not want, nor does it need any additional crime being imported from across the Ohio River.

Cincinnati is not only Northern Kentucky’s neighbor across a river, but it is our regional economic and cultural partner. We should be working together to eliminate violent crime in both communities, not to simply relocate where a crime takes place.

I have the utmost respect for the men and women who have taken an oath to protect us in law enforcement and understand their job often can be frustrating. I sincerely hope that Capt. Herold’s comment was made in the heat of that moment and was not a serious suggestion. I would like to make myself available to any member of the Cincinnati Police Department or any official from Cincinnati to discuss our shared problems to begin a healthy conversation on how to help improve the lives of everyone in our region.

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Note: Senator Wil Schroder represents District 24 comprised of Bracken, Campbell, and Pendleton Counties. Sen. Schroder is Chair of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary, and is also the Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is a member of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee and Senate Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor Committee. Additionally, Senator Schroder serves as Vice Chairman of the Northern Kentucky Caucus. For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senator Schroder, please visit: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/Portraits/Senate24.jpg

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.


Senate Majority Priorities for Part 2 of #KYGA15

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015) – The Kentucky Senate Majority introduced their next five priorities bills Tuesday to kick off part two of the 2015 Legislative Session of the Kentucky General Assembly. All five bills received their first reading Tuesday:

  • Senate Bill 6 (Sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado) – creates a medical malpractice claim board to review cases against health care providers before they can be pursued in court to help stop frivolous lawsuits.
  • SB 7 (Sen. Julie Raque Adams) – requires ultrasound pictures of a woman’s unborn baby be made available to the individual considering having an abortion, if she chooses to see them.
  • SB 8 (Sen. Mike Wilson) – permits the establishment of charter schools to close the educational achievement gap and provide choices for parents.
  • SB 9 (Sen. Wil Schroder) – Reduces the cost of new school construction by exempting said schools from the “prevailing wage” requirements.
  • SB 10 (Sen. Stan Humphries) – continues the development of a stroke system of care in Kentucky that facilitates timely access to an appropriate level of care for stroke patients.  In 2006, the legislature passed a resolution that encourages the development of this system.

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

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

1Higdon

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Alvarado 2

Schickel

12 Schroder

Givens 2

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Whitney 2

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Wise

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Wise 1

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