In his budget proposal, Governor Bevin provided $60 million in state funding for an investment partnership with the City of Lexington for the project. The arrangement includes a guaranteed repayment of funds to the state using .5 cents of the transient room tax. In order for the Lexington Convention Center to remain competitive and meet its potential as an economic engine, Lexington and the state must make needed investments. Industry experts forecast that expanding the Convention Center will generate more than $57 million in annual economic impact, an increase from $42 million today.
State Budget Update
With less than 25 legislative days remaining in the 60-day session, the House has not released its version of the budget. Legislators continue to hear testimony from state officials about the impact of the Governor's proposed cuts to various state agencies. The Governor's proposal included 4.5 percent budget cuts for the rest of the current fiscal year and 9 percent cuts for the next two fiscal years for most of state government, including higher education. The savings are aimed at helping meet financial obligations to the state pension systems and Medicaid.
Many Capitol observers now anticipate the House will present its budget in mid-March after the special elections next week. Special elections for four vacant House seats will be held on Tuesday, March 8. Currently, Democrats hold a slim majority (50-46) in the chamber.
A resolution calling for the study of Kentucky's workforce development system passed out of a Senate committee last week. SCR 75 seeks to establish a legislative task force to study workforce development issues in Kentucky. The Kentucky Workforce Oversight Task Force would consist of legislators who would study and develop recommendations concerning the benefits, investments, and funding of workforce education which is estimated at $900 million a year. A similar resolution (HCR 97) has passed the House.
P3 | Felony Expungement
Other priority issues, including public-private partnerships (P3) and felony expungement, await action in the Senate. P3 legislation (HB 309 | SB 132) has passed the House but has not been heard by a Senate committee.
Although a House proposal (HB 40) related to felony expungement has passed the House, Senate Republicans are expected to bring forth a different version of legislation that creates a process for expungement for some Class D felonies after a waiting period.
Workers Comp Fix
SB 151, which seeks to clarify current state law related to employer offsets for temporary total disability benefits for light duty work, passed out of the Senate but is waiting on action by the House Labor and Industry Committee.
State Pension System Crisis
This past week, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce unveiled a statewide campaign aimed at educating Kentucky's citizens about the impact the state's public pension crisis is having on the financial stability of the Commonwealth. The campaign includes the release of a Citizen's Guide to Kentucky's Pension Crisis a document that the Chamber is using to inform all Kentuckians on the impact of the crisis if not fixed, and what must be done to get the state out of serious debt. The Chamber also released a video explaining the public pension crisis and how it affects all Kentuckians in under three minutes. Watch the video here.
The Week Ahead
This week, HB 441, related to the Lexington Convention Center renovation and expansion project, is expected to be voted on House floor.
Click to view a full listing of the legislation Commerce Lexington is tracking this session.