House Passes State Budget Bill
Last week, the House Democratic Majority passed its version of the next two-year $21 billion state budget (HB 303). The bill passed the full House last Wednesday with a vote of 53-0 as House Republican members declined to vote on the measure.
The House budget bill proposal differed from the Governor's budget largely in that it restored cuts to state universities, various programs for public schools, some state agencies and provides for work ready scholarships. HB 303 eliminated $100 million in state bond funding for workforce development projects.
Like the Governor's proposal, the House budget fully funds the over $1 billion in actuarially required contributions to the ailing public pension systems for teachers and state employees (KTRS and KERS) without bonding. The House budget also included the Governor's proposed $60 million in state bond funds for the renovation and expansion of the Lexington Convention Center.
- $268 million in additional revenue was identified by using the most optimistic end-of-the range forecasting for state revenues over the biennium issued by the Consensus Forecasting Group.
- $500 million in one-time surplus swept from the Public Employee Health Insurance Trust Fund
- Diverted less money than Governor Bevin to the state's budget reserve (i.e. rainy day) fund
Although the House budget was praised for its low-level of bonded indebtedness, the Governor and House Republicans criticized the proposal for relying too heavily on one-time, non-reoccurring money to pay for education and pension issues.
HB 303 now moves to the Senate for consideration. Senate President Robert Stivers said the Senate is expected to vote on its version of the budget on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. After the Senate passes its budget, it is likely a conference committee will be appointed to work out differences.
P3, Felony Expungement and Pension Reform
HB 309 related to public-private partnerships passed out of the Senate Economic Development Committee last week and now heads to the Senate for a floor vote. This legislation creates a transparent and explicit framework under Kentucky's procurement code through which the state and local governments may use a public-private partnership to provide services, facilities and transportation infrastructure to the public.
A proposal related to felony expungement also passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. HB 40 was amended in the Senate committee to include key provisions from SB 298. The proposal requires a judge to vacate the felony before it can be expunged; limits the number of eligible felonies; and includes a 5-year waiting period. The amended HB 40 awaits a floor vote by the Senate.
A myriad of bills related to increasing transparency over the state pension systems await action. Most notably, SB 2 passed out of a House Committee last week with bipartisan support. The bill seeks to bring more accountability to the system by making changes to board structures including gubernatorial appointments, and requiring the systems to follow the model procurement code. The bill now awaits a floor vote by the House. Governor Bevin has said he will use the legislative interim for discussions with lawmakers about structural changes to the state pension systems.
Hospitality Modernization - Call to Action
The Kentucky Distillers Association is urging businesses and organizations in support of the bourbon industry to contact House legislators requesting action on SB 11 and HB 433. These bills update alcohol laws to ensure that Kentucky is an attractive state for new distilleries and the growing Bourbon renaissance.
This week will be critical in the final push for action on these important Bourbon tourism reforms in the House. The reforms will help grow the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, create jobs, level the playing field and keep Kentucky competitive. If this is an issue of concern to you, please contact your House member and all five members of House leadership at the LRC message line, 1-800-372-7181.
Click to view a full listing of the legislation Commerce Lexington is tracking this session.