Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster

Legislator's Log - Week of Dec. 22, 2013

yonts d 300KENTUCKY (12/23/13) - Over the past week we have examined the need for a stronger economy, especially job growth. But bringing in new jobs takes more time than Kentucky has to give. We need new revenue, and we need it now.
 
That begs that question: what are we, as a Commonwealth, facing in terms of revenue needs and another budget shortfall over the next two-year budget cycle?
 
In the past six years, the state has made $1.6 billion in cuts to cover shortfalls caused by steep revenue losses and funding imbalances seen since the 2007 recession. Certain areas of spending, like Medicaid and guaranteed base funding for public schools, have escaped the budget ax but they, too, are financially strapped as the numbers of people they must serve continue to grow. The belief was that the next budget cycle—the one for which we must pass a budget in the upcoming 2014 Regular Session—would not require deep cuts state agencies have seen since 2008 as the economy recovered. At least that has been our hope.
 
That hope is now a little more dim, as state budget officials explained in a presentation to the Ken-tucky Chamber of Commerce in mid December.
 
Financial numbers shared with the Chamber by the Office of the State Budget Director, although unofficial, portend a shortfall of at least another $370 million. Now, it is yet unknown what that means in terms of additional cuts. There has been no decision by members of the Kentucky General Assembly on future cuts because, 1) no official revenue estimates have yet been released and, 2) state agencies are traditionally asked by Gov. Beshear to plan for cuts then appear before lawmakers to explain their “budget reduction” plans. So, it will likely be at least a few weeks before House and Senate party caucuses meet to discuss any legislative plan of action.
 
The good news in all this uncertainty (yes, there is some good news!) is that state budget experts think the economy is rebounding, slowly but surely. They expect state revenues to improve in future years—an expectation reflected in the fact that 1) there is estimated new revenue through 2016, with room for growth in those numbers if recovery is more robust than anticipated, and 2) the fact that State Budget Director Jane Driskell said at the end of October, and I quote: “Overall, the outlook for the next three quarters is positive, but with expectations for slow growth...”
 
Good news can also be gleaned from 2013’s final meeting of the independent state budget forecast-ing panel, the Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG), which gave its unofficial revenue projections for the next two years last Thursday. I will share details of the CFG’s projections in my next article. It is those very projections on which the Governor says he will base the budget proposal that he presents to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The panel’s official revenue estimates will be released on or before the session’s 15th legislative day scheduled for Jan. 28.
 
Now, some of my readers have some many questions about recent stories in the news that mention using expanded gambling or tax code changes to boost state revenue. As far as I am aware, Gov. Beshear has said any budget plan he presents to lawmakers will NOT include revenues from those sources, which are yet-unapproved by the Kentucky General Assembly anyway. He has also said, however, that getting the necessary revenue to make new investments in education, etc., will “require some cuts in other agencies.”
 
It only stands to reason that those cuts would be less severe if there were new state dollars to be had.
 
That said, I understand there is a bipartisan effort underway by key House and Senate leaders to draft and present expanded gambling legislation in the upcoming session. There is also support among some lawmakers for tax reform changes, although getting a tax reform agenda through in an election year could be like shooting for the moon. The outcome of either or both will ultimately depend on how the thought of a 7th consecutive year in cuts to state programs sits with a majority in the House and the Senate.
 
I do not want my constituents and Kentuckians across the Commonwealth to lose heart about our economic future. We are, really, holding our own. As for decisions made over the next three and a half months during the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly: please, make your voices heard. Share your com-ments and concerns with lawmakers in the House and Senate by calling the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181. If you want more revenue, say so, and how. The future is in all our hands.

Happy New Year!
Brent Yonts
 
Please share your ideas with me by e-mailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also send me a letter addressed to: Rep. Brent Yonts, Capitol Annex, Rm. 366 A, 702 Capitol Ave., Frankfort KY 40601.

 

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

April 17, 2014 4563

KSP Nabs St. Charles Man Wanted by U.S.…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 17, 2014 3558

Meet The Hopkins County Magistrate…

in News by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
April 17, 2014 1937

Bremen Man Charged for Possession of…

in Top Stories by Muhlenberg Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 17, 2014 1786

Watson Family Tragedy Inspires Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter
April 18, 2014 1580

Daviess County School Board Hears…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

April 17, 2014 4563

KSP Nabs St. Charles Man Wanted by U.S.…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 18, 2014 1302

Talking Teen Trashed Telephone Pole,…

in Top Stories by MPD
April 19, 2014 1107

Fifth Third on Main Street Comes Down

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
April 18, 2014 1040

Earlington Traffic Stop Results in Meth…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 19, 2014 859

MPD Arrests Juveniles for Reason Rash of…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

April 18, 2014 1580

Daviess County School Board Hears…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
April 18, 2014 1471

One Arrested, Another Injured in Single…

in News by J.D. Marksberry
April 17, 2014 357

Owensboro Public Works Declares 'War on…

in Top Stories by Abby Shelton
April 17, 2014 262

‘Big Bugs’ Artist Returns to Western…

in Top Stories by Western Kentucky Botanical Garden
April 18, 2014 224

Second Children’s Advocacy Center of…

in Top Stories by Michael Hathaway

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

April 17, 2014 1937

Bremen Man Charged for Possession of…

in Top Stories by Muhlenberg Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 17, 2014 1786

Watson Family Tragedy Inspires Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter
April 18, 2014 1096

Friends of Lake Malone Busy Hiding 1,500…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter
April 17, 2014 1030

Drakesboro Man Charged with Wanton…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 17, 2014 1024

Major Muhlenberg Road Projects Found in…

in Top Stories by Rebecca Hanchett

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 06social 21social 22social 04social 03