By: Patrick Flannery
Representative, State of Kentucky
The pace picked up quite a bit this month as the clock is running on our work to prepare for the 2024 Regular Session. Historically, the biggest task on the agenda during even-year sessions is passing a two-year spending plan for state programs and agencies. As you can imagine, this is a major effort and even more so if you are as committed as we are to getting it right. We only have one chance to invest a dollar and we owe it to taxpayers to make sure we do so in ways that benefit Kentuckians today and for generations to come.
This philosophy makes the work of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee critical. As a member of the committee, I work with House leadership and the legislature’s budget officials to craft a spending plan that we will introduce in January. Please let me know if you would like additional information, or visit the legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov for a link to the committee documents and the recorded meetings. IJC on Appropriations and Revenue: Members met to discuss important issues with stakeholders across the commonwealth, featuring an update from the University of Kentucky on their academic, facility, cost, and debt conditions. Additionally, the University of Louisville and Murray State University presented on their cybersecurity programs and role in cybersecurity for the commonwealth. Representatives from the Teachers Retirement System and the Kentucky Public Pensions Authority provided updates on Kentucky’s pensions. Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Protections BR Sub: Members heard testimony regarding the implementation of SB 15 from the 2023 Legislative Session. This bill was an effort to protect and inform the people of the commonwealth about how data gathered from their consumer appliances, medical devices, government tools, and personal electronics are being collected and used. Based on a similar bill recently passed in Virginia, the bill also outlined six rights for consumers including the right to delete gathered data, the right to know where their data is being used, and the right to opt out of having their data sold. While this bill did not pass during session, I expect there to be similar legislation filed in 2024. General Government, Finance, Personnel, and Public Retirement BR Sub: Lawmakers met to discuss the tax implications of a new practice sweeping the nation: working from home. Local governments across the state utilize taxes collected from employees working from home differently, and as the interest in this practice grows, I fully expect the legislature to investigate the best practice in taxing labor. Health and Family Services BR Sub: Members heard an update on the current financial standings within Medicaid, including what has been expended and utilized through the current fiscal year. With drug prices on the rise as well as the overall cost of healthcare, there has been a significant increase in budget projections for the 2024 fiscal year. As we approach our budget session, I anticipate more conversations to be had revolving around the best way to cater to the Medicaid program. Transportation BR Sub: Members heard from the Department of Aviation (KDA), Department of Vehicle Registration, and Dreamflights Charities. The department shared that the world of aviation is complex, ever developing, and capital intensive with major projects planned for the coming years. They are currently working on a two phased economic output study to determine the extent that investment in airports and aviation can benefit the Commonwealth. Next, the Department of Vehicle Registration presented that their annual revenue is $420 million, with the CDL programming making them eligible for an additional $700 million in federal funding. Finally, Director Drew Edwards of Dreamflights Charities shared their goal to be an opportunity for youth interested in aviation. Dreamflights offers discovery flights for youth in a place for the first time, helps with training youth up to their first solo flight, and awards scholarships to aspiring aviation students. Education BR Sub: Lawmakers heard from various stakeholders in Kentucky’s education system. The first testimony was given by the Department of Education and it focused on SEEK funding to state school districts. Unfortunately, 58 school districts will see a decrease in SEEK funding due to decreased attendance numbers. Statewide, schools have seen a loss of 28,102 days of attendance. Since so much of education funding is based on attendance, we will continue looking at what is causing the decrease and how we can adjust for it. As always, I can be reached anytime through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky legislature’s home page at legislature.ky.gov.