Mayfield, Alvarado recap session, bills

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, May 15, 2018

With the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly session more than a month in the past, Clark County’s legislators said a lot was accomplished but it was a battle.

There were late moment agreements on pension, budget and revenue bills. There were vetos. There were overridden vetoes. There was partisan politics.

And then there was the response from the public, which was often far from positive.

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State Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) said he received threatening messages and photos of his family with no other message, which he interpreted as a threat.

“Pretty nasty session this year,” Alvarado said in the first of two legislative updates Monday. “It brought out the worst in people this year. It’s been tough. It’s tough to do the right thing.

State Rep. Donna Mayfield (R-Winchester) recently announced she would not seek re-election for another term in the wake of this year’s contentious session.

“It’s been an unusual session,” she said.

“She’s been a tremendous state representative,” Alvarado said. “When you get to Frankfort, you realize some are there to take up space and some are there to get things done. Her decision is sad for me and a loss for the community.”

Much of the public angst and backlash centered around what Alvarado called the “Big Four” bills: pension reform, the biennial budget, the state revenue plan and one to phase-in higher retirement contributions for governments and quasi-governmental agencies. All four were intertwined, and would not have passed without the others.

“No matter what else happened, we had to get (the budget) done,” Alvarado said.

The revenue bill, which adds taxes to some services and an additional 50 cent tax per pack of cigarettes, also fully funded the state’s pension contributions, increased classroom funding and restored school transportation funding.

The pension reform bill would move teachers hired after Jan. 1, 2019, to a cash-hybrid retirement system used by other state employees, Alvarado said. Current and retired teachers would not be affected, other than not being able to count sick days toward retirement, he said.

“This was the first structurally balanced budget in a generation,” Alvarado said, meaning it did not require one-time funds to balance.

The revenue bill, he said was the “first step” away from relying on income-based taxes funding government to a user-based system similar to Tennessee’s.

Mayfield said she was particularly pleased to see the foster care reform bill pass, which included funding for more social workers for the more than 8,000 children in the system as well as streamline the process.

“There are a number of tripping points that are keeping kids from a home where they can grow and be loved for the rest of their lives,” she said. “The big goal was to get these kids in their forever homes.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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