Hopefully by the time you read this, House and Senate leaders will have developed a compromise plan on our two-year state budget. As it stands right now, however, there are still some issues left on the table for them. It all started last week, with the Senate passing its own version of the spending plan. There were some stark differences in philosophy between the two, and it’s not surprising it has taken a few days for them to work out the details that both sides can agree on.
Essentially, the House and Senate disagree on how to best stimulate the economy. We included about a billion dollars in school construction, water and sewer lines, and other projects to create jobs and put people back to work. With interest rates so low and the economy so slow, we can get the best deals on everything from bricks to asphalt, saving money in the long run.
The Senate, however, put more of a focus on deep spending cuts and keeping our debt as low as possible. I understand and appreciate where they’re coming from, but our region desperately needs good-paying jobs, not to mention the infrastructure improvements contained in the House version of the budget.
Regardless, I hope that we’ll arrive at a final plan sometime this week, and I’ll report back to you when we do.
The budget isn’t the only item on the agenda, though. House and Senate leaders are also hashing out the details of House Bill 1, the domestic violence legislation that’s been a priority of Speaker Stumbo’s.
Meanwhile, we passed Senate Bill 105, which will help fend off anti-agriculture activists from other states deciding what happens on Kentucky farms. SB 105 will create the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission, which will allow local farmers to decide the care that animals should receive, how they should be treated, and how farms should run. There have been efforts in other states by PETA and other groups to dictate animal treatment, and their standards are obviously much more stringent and non-sensical than ours.
We have only four days left in this session, including days in April after the governor vetoes any bills he doesn’t like. We’re in a time crunch, but our work continues at a faster pace. Remember to call our Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181, or call my office at 502-564-8100, ext. 818 to let me know how you feel about any of the bills waiting to be voted on.