Kentucky Lawmakers Meet for Final Legislative Day on Saturday

Apr 14, 2018

Hazard Senator Brandon Smith Looked to the Gallery During Floor Debate on Budget Bill Friday
Credit Stu Johnson

The 2018 Kentucky General Assembly session ends today in an unusual Saturday session. The second to last day was a busy one.

The day began with a bit of deju vu as massive crowds of teachers inundated the capitol, lobbying for additional school funding. Lawmakers relatively quickly dispatched vetoes issued by Gov. Matt Bevin.  When the second to last day was done, House and Senate members had blocked Bevin’s vetoes on the budget, a tax bill and legislation to stretch pension payments for municipalities out over time.

During the debate on taxes, Madison County Senator Jared Carpenter lamented that talk of tax reform never panned out until now. “This next budget bill will be better.  This next tax plan is going to be better. I’ve been here eight years, they’ve been talking about taxing improvement for 40 years and they’ve done nothing about it.  They’ve done nothing to improve that process,” said Carpenter.  “This is a step in that direction.”

By overriding the governor’s veto, a measure will move forward to raise taxes on some 17 services and lower some personal and corporate income taxes.  Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones offered this on the tax measure. “What this tax bill really does,  it raises 436 million dollars in taxes from the people who can least afford to pay for it,” argued Jones.

During debate on tax reforms, opponents argued budget cuts might be necessary as soon as this fall, if the revenue bill doesn’t generate sufficient tax dollars.  Senate President Robert Stivers is confident the tax bill will produce enough revenue to balance the budget. “The fact that someone believes that revenues may not be there is not sufficient for a budget reduction act,” explained Stivers.

Paul Goodman is a retired educator who spent 35 years in the classroom.  He says approved pension reforms remain a priority concern him.  Goodman says Kentucky teachers historically knew there was a financial trade off in lower salaries for doing a job that support a public good. “We had a promise.  You know you’re not going to make as much in the public sector as you would in the private sector, but you’ll have a secure pension when you leave.  Well I’m not sure that the new teachers can accept that now.  I don’t know that it’s true for them,” said Goodman.

The pension legislation, a bill not debated Friday, calls for new hires to move into a cash- hybrid, defined-contribution benefit plan.