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While we passed several important bills this week, my time was dominated with review of the House’s proposal, House Bill 265, for the state’s two-year budget.
The plan will be roughly $9 billion per year or $18 billion total. In that, the Senate proposal carries about 6.58 percent authorized debt which is lower than the House’s proposal of 6.8 percent and even lower than the governor’s proposal of 7.1 percent. The Senate’s budget puts more money into the Rainy Day Fund and significantly lowers the state’s structural imbalance. Unlike the governor’s proposal, we recognize that it is bad public policy to bond or restructure or borrow money to pay for current expenses.
The Senate crafted a financially responsible budget that reflects what every family in the Commonwealth has had to face during the last several years – less money. We needed to decide what was necessary as opposed to what would be nice to have. People decide between paying their mortgage or going on vacation, paying their utility bill or going to the movies. While the Senate budget provides for social services, education, public safety and necessary infrastructure, we are mindful that we cannot afford some things that, while nice or even beneficial to have, are not ultimately critical. Of course, as the nation’s and our economies improve, we will continue to evaluate and review our revenues as compared to our needs.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 134 which would facilitate returning military who have a HVAC specialty to obtain certification in Kentucky. SB 134 allows a current or former member of the United States Armed Forces to qualify for a journeyman license if he or she has been trained as a journeyman by the military and actively served in that occupation during his or her military service. We are grateful to the men and women who serve and it is not just to make their transition back to civilian life more difficult.
The Senate also passed several other bills to lay the groundwork for a prosperous future. If you ask business-owners what kinds of things the government can do to help them, one of their top answers will be to tell government to get out of the way. Senate Bill 4 applies a moratorium on administrative regulations as the governor determines which regulations to keep in place, amended or repealed altogether. The governor can then reissue the regulations he deems important and these will go through the usual legislative review. The purpose of SB 4 is to rein in what many feel is out-of-control red-tape. We need to look at these regulations with fresh eyes and make sure they still have a constructive purpose.
This week, we will be entering in a conference committee with the House to hammer out differences in our budget proposals. As Chairman of the Transportation Committee, I have been working for several weeks on the state’s road plan. The Senate will be voting on the plan next week.
Sen. Ernie Harris. R-Crestwood, represents the 26th District including Carroll, Henry, Oldham, and Trimble counties, as well as a portion of Jefferson County.