Tuesday was a significant day as Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, the highest ranking female legislator, became the woman legislator to preside over the joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly during which Governor Beshear presented his proposed budget.
Governor Beshear presented a multi-faceted budget proposal of $20.3 billion 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. Of course we all know it is easy to propose grand initiatives in broad strokes. However, the reality is that the economy is stagnant, and we will have to make tough choices and operate within our means.
A major infrastructure project was proposed Wednesday by Governor Beshear and United States Congressman Hal Rogers, expanding 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 Kentucky. Specifically, 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure would be laid in eastern Kentucky and reach throughout the state within the next three years.
It was an honor to have Congressman Rogers in the Senate Chamber on Wednesday. He spoke briefly and reminded us that we are statesmen and must remember that as we work on issues that affect Kentucky. I hope this is a mantra for all legislators as we work together and move Kentucky forward.
Despite the hazardous weather and somewhat dangerous road conditions, the Senate plowed ahead, passing bills brought to the floor this week. Among the bills passed were: Senate Bill 27, a measure that moves all elections of constitutional officers to even-numbered years. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, saves local and state governments millions of dollars by combining elections, and will help engage more citizens in choosing constitutional officers with higher voter turnout.
Though it’s still early in the year, the session is already getting busy. I encourage you to come to Frankfort for hearings of interest to you. Citizens are always welcome in our committee meetings. You can also view live-streaming and archived coverage of legislative proceedings at www.ket.org.
If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100. I appreciate your time and input.