Legislature has to fix the ‘Big 3’

Published 10:36 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

Kentucky lawmakers will kick off the new year by getting started in 2018 legislative session with some monumental tasks looming.

Although some people are quick to say they do not pay attention to what happens in Frankfort, now would be the time to take an active interest as the primary focus of the legislature will be on fundamental elements the impact each and every Kentuckian.

You know, important stuff like the public pension, state budgets and taxes, just to name a few.

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This will be the second year with Republicans fully in charge and the clock is ticking to address many of these foundational elements that continue to hinder the state’s productivity.

These “Big Three” will be daunting, to say the least.

According to a recent Associated Press report, “Kentucky’s retirement system is one of the worst-funded systems in the country. State workers are owed billions of dollars in benefits over the next 30 years, but the government is a little short. At least $41 billion short, according to official estimates.”

Recent solutions have fallen flat. The problem is like the proverbial snowball that creates an avalanche. It is not getting any smaller.

That same news report warns that many state-funded programs will potentially face heavy cuts.

“Bevin’s budget director says lawmakers have to find roughly $1 billion to spend on the state’s struggling pension system. That leaves little, if any, to spend on anything else. Bevin has said the budget “won’t be pretty.”

And finally, tax talks could be the most impactful for every Kentuckian.

“Everyone seems to agree Kentucky’s tax system does not produce enough revenue to run the government. But that’s where the agreement ends. Multiple legislatures and governors have tried to overhaul the system, appointing blue-ribbon commissions that write blue-ribbon reports that sit on blue-ribbon shelves,” according to the recent AP glance at the upcoming legislative session.

“With Republicans controlling most of state government, they now say they have a “once in a generation chance” at changing the tax code. Bevin says he wants to lower the tax rate, pledging to eliminate many sales tax exemptions to make up the difference in revenue. But the people and industries that benefit from those exemptions don’t like that. And they have lots of lobbyists.”

These are the challenges ahead for Kentucky’s Legislature. Every citizen needs to be paying attention so they know what’s coming in 2018.