By Dave Adkisson
President & CEO, Kentucky Chamber
The 2016 General Assembly ended last week. The state budget and pension problems dominated the session, and we at the Kentucky Chamber think Frankfort made major strides in getting the state’s house in order.
This is the most responsible budget in years because it deals with our public pension problems head-on, and it’s actually based on some pretty conservative economic projections.
With more than a half-billion additional dollars committed to pensions, Frankfort sent a strong signal to Wall Street that Kentucky is stepping up to its obligations to public employees and retirees.
Why do we care about what Wall Street thinks? Because the credit rating agencies in New York evaluate our state’s finances and their opinion determines – just like with your personal credit score - what the state can borrow and how much taxpayers will have to pay – for public buildings, roads, bridges, you name it.
Other parts of state government had to be cut to make these pension payments - and in some cases, that’s regrettable. Our universities and community colleges will be cut about 4-1/2 percent, but fortunately, those cuts are softer than the 9 percent originally proposed.
Our public schools – kindergarten through 12th grade – were spared. No major increases, but at least there will be money to pay our teachers and order some textbooks.
There were other positive bills that passed, including the public-private partnership bill, and the felony expungement bill.
Overall, the 2016 General Assembly was highly productive and should move our commonwealth forward.
I’m Dave Adkisson, and that’s my point of view.