Legislature will have to make tough choices
Whitney Westerfield State Senator
After observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, the Legislature went back to work. Tuesday was a special day as Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, the highest ranking female legislator, became the first female legislator to preside over the joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly during which Governor Beshear presented his proposed budget.
During the address, Governor Beshear presented a multi-faceted budget proposal of $20.3 billion dollars for the next two fiscal years. The plan calls for five percent cuts to most state agencies, proposes a gas tax increase, and borrows a staggering $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.
Perhaps the most glaring omission from the proposed budget revolves around the Affordable Care Act. The Governor is expecting savings near $166 Million dollars from federal money we’ll receive under the ACA. Frustratingly though, not a single supporter of the ACA, to date, has offered a single suggestion for what we as taxpayers are supposed to do when that Federal money dries up. Having that money in the Governor’s budget today seems nice, but it won’t last forever, and he hasn’t prepared for that future.
The Governor ended his address describing how gambling would allow him to “do more good” and with “less damage to needed services.” He continues to refuse acknowledging the enormous savings that would be realized by repealing the prevailing wage or the economic growth that would come from making Kentucky a Right-to-Work state, neither of which build Kentucky’s future on her citizens’ losses.
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 money by combining elections, and will help engage more citizens in choosing constitutional officers with higher voter turnout.
Senate Bill 3, a measure that requires a face-to-face consultation with a physician or designee prior to an abortion procedure, also passed. Making sure patients receive the valuable information regarding the medical procedure ensures they understand any health risks, and allows them an audience for questions and answers. I proudly co-sponsored SB3 and spoke in support of the measure during the floor debate.
As the Judiciary Committee met Thursday, one of my bills, Senate Bill 45, was heard. This legislation allows the court system to authorize a search warrant to be applied for and issued electronically if the process complies with constitutional safeguards, saving time and money in the process. The bill was voted unanimously out of committee.
Your input on the issues facing the state, as always, is important to me. I invite you to contact me with issues or concerns. You may call my office in Frankfort at 800-372-7181 or by email at email@example.com.
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