Big issues still on Kentucky legislators' plates as 2018 session winds down
Budget and pension reform are still unresolved with little time left.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- As the 2018 session of the General Assembly winds down, there is a lot of work to do and not much time to do it.
There are five working days left in this 60-day session, and two big issues remain unresolved: the budget and pension reform.
As the session nears the end, public school teachers continue to keep up the pressure, packing Capitol sidewalks, hearing rooms and hallways. They want to make sure the controversial pension bill is not revived.
“Our biggest concern is that they're going to slip something through without knowing about it,” retired teacher Anita Holbrook said.
Right now, the pension bill, Senate Bill 1, is stuck in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Sen. Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro), who chairs the committee, characterized the bill as, “on life support, but not dead”
Bowen said if any pension reform passes, it will likely be a watered down version because of the teacher protests.
“They've influenced the process. That's only fair to say," he said. "So I'm hopeful that we will get some type of reform done. We have to get some type of reform done."
As for the budget, House and Senate leaders have spent two days in marathon negotiations. They want to pass the budget before the scheduled 10-day recess during which Gov. Matt Bevin can veto legislation.
“We still have a lot of big decisions to be made,” said Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), the Senate Majority Floor Leader.
So far, there is no deal on either raising revenue as the House wants or cutting spending, as the Senate wants.
“Everything is interconnected,” Thayer said. “So, we're talking about a lot options.”
Among those options is some kind of tax reform. Lawmakers said it is still possible even with time running out.
“What we need to do is be able to get revenues in for the state in order to fund the appropriate governmental services that are required,” said House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell (R-Lancaster).
To try and get it all done before the veto recess, lawmakers may use a snow day from January and shift other days in the legislative calendar.
“When I was in business, we got more done at quitting time than any other time of the day," Bowen said. "So I think we can get a lot of heavy lifting done."
By law, the session must end by April 15.
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