By 91st District Represesentative Ted Edmonds
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol this past week for our 60-day budget session, which promises to be full of difficult decisions and necessary compromises.
Obviously, the state’s financial condition will get the bulk of our attention during the next few months. State economists tell us that even if we hold a firm line on spending, we’ll have $900 million less than we had the last two years. The governor says that with the growth in Medicaid and debt on our existing bonds, we could be looking at a deficit of more like $1.5 billion.
Six times since we passed the last budget in 2008, the state has had to tighten its belt. The federal stimulus helped, but we can’t rely on Washington to aid us this time around. Instead, we’ll have to find ways to trim government without hurting the folks who rely on the many programs like Medicaid, schools, and law enforcement.
There has been some talk of meaningful tax reform this year, with an eye toward making sure that as the economy improves, the state’s revenues rise with it. As it is now, our tax system isn’t in sync with the 21st century economy. There are ideas on both sides of the aisle, so we’ll see if we can arrive at some sort of conclusion during this session. If not, we’ll still make some large strides toward the eventual solution.
Even with the budget as the main item on our agenda, we’ve gotten to work immediately on other issues. Our House Judiciary Committee has already held its first meeting and passed House Bill 1, known as Amanda’s Bill, which is aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence. I’ll have more information on this legislation when it comes to the House floor — likely in this upcoming week.
With so much on our plate this year, from the budget to comprehensive reform of the state’s criminal code, it’s more important than ever that each of you stay informed with what’s happening in Frankfort and contact me with your thoughts. You can access a wealth of information at the
Kentucky Legislature Home Page, www.lrc.ky.gov. Among other things, you can find every bill and amendment within 24 hours of it being introduced, not to mention roll call votes.
Our home page also features the upcoming legislative calendar, complete with committee meetings and floor action. For those of you without an Internet connection, you can call 1-800-633-9650 to get this information.
To leave a message for me or any other legislator — including Sens. Johnny Ray Turner (Breathitt County), Sen. Tom Jensen (Estill County), and Sen. Robert Stivers (Lee County), you can call our Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. We also have a TTY line for those with hearing problems at 1-800-896-0305. And of course, you can always call me directly at 502-564-8100, ext. 818.
I’ll be reporting weekly on what’s happening in Frankfort, because an informed public is key to our republic.