It was a busy week in the Legislature following Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday.
The Governor presented his budget on Tuesday. History was made at this year’s presentation as Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, the highest ranking female legislator, became the first woman legislator to preside over the joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Governor Beshear presented a multi-faceted budget proposal of $20.3 billion dollars for the next two fiscal years. The plan calls for five percent cuts to most state agencies, proposes a gas tax increase, and borrows $1.9 billion in new debt. We all know it is easy to propose grand initiatives in broad strokes. However, we also know that the economy is stagnant and tough choices must be made to operate within our means.
On Wednesday, Congressman Hal Rogers visited Frankfort and addressed the State Senate. He reminded us that we are statesmen and must work on issues that affect all of Kentucky. While in town he also discussed a proposal to expand broadband service in Kentucky. The plan would combine $60 million in state bonds and $40 million from federal and private sources to fund broadband internet expansion across the Commonwealth. Specifically, 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure would be laid in eastern Kentucky and throughout the state within the next three years.
Among the bills we passed this week were Senate Bill 27, a measure that moves all elections of constitutional officers to even-numbered years. This bill saves local and state governments millions by combining elections which can be better spent on education, infrastructure or public safety. I believe it will also help engage more citizens in choosing constitutional officers because of a higher voter turnout. I am also very pleased to report that Senate Bill 3, a measure that requires a face-to-face consultation with a physician or designee prior to an abortion procedure, also passed the Senate. I was pleased to co-sponsor this bill, introduced by Senator Sara Beth Gregory, so that patients receive valuable information regarding a life changing procedure.
Senate Bill 4 is another cost saving measure and also passed the Senate this week without opposition. This legislation provides a onetime election for members to base their pensions on their legislative work only, rather than on a high salaried position such as a judgeship or executive appointment that they may pursue in their final years of service.
I was pleased to welcome Father Jim Sichko of Richmond and Brother Neal Thornton of Mt. Vernon to Frankfort. Father Jim Sichko gave the invocation for the Budget Address and Brother Thornton led the opening prayer for the Senate on Tuesday. Both men provided words of inspiration to myself and fellow legislators.
If you have any ideas, issues, or concerns, please call me in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or e-mail me at [email protected] I also encourage groups from Madison County to come visit the Capitol during session. Contact my office if you need assistance in setting up a visit.
Note: Senator Jared Carpenter (R-Berea) is Chairman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee, and a member of the Education Committee. He represents the 34th District including Madison and Rockcastle Counties and the southern portion of Fayette County.