KENTUCKY (1/13/13) - One week of the 2013 Regular Session is behind us, with a short break before we resume the session the first week of February.
The first week of every regular session, as I have mentioned in the past, is not a time for voting on bills. It is a time when bills are introduced, committee assignments are doled out, ethics training is attended by lawmakers, newly elected and reelected members take the oath of office and—as is the case in an odd-year session, like this one—House and Senate leaders are installed for the next two years.
The “brass tacks” work of holding committee hearings and, eventually, voting on legislation that covers many of the issues we have reviewed in recent weeks will begin in February and last through the session’s end in late March.
The big news for me personally and for all interested in debate on the pension issue this session is my appointment by House leadership to serve as Chairman of the House State Government Committee, a committee on which I have served as a member for many years. The Chairmanship of the committee was held previously by Rep. Mike Cherry of Princeton, who opted not to run for reelection in his House district last November.
I am very grateful to Speaker Greg Stumbo and the rest of the House leadership for the faith they have put in me to lead this committee for at least the next two years, and am excited about the work that lies ahead.
I will not rehash much of what we have already discussed here about redistricting, pension and tax reform, Medicaid reform, and the other topics we are sure to face in the days ahead. What I will say is that this will be a fast paced, hard-scrabble session where ideological differences on revenue legislation, in particular, are unlikely to be diffused by a key leadership change here or there.
In short, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. (But what session isn’t, really?)
That said, lawmaker surveys and election results of the past year show that Americans and most Kentuckians are in favor of more cooperation on issues that lawmakers have been hesitant to address such as tax reform, permitting of industrial hemp, and a few others. We will see how legislative treatment of these issues fares here in the Commonwealth and this session progresses.
I encourage each of you living or working here in the district to stay informed of all the action in Frankfort during the 2013 Regular Session. You can track bills or other legislation of interest to you this session by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. To find out when a committee meeting is scheduled, you can reach the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650 any time, day or night.
If you would like to share your comments or concerns with me or another legislator about a particular bill under consideration this session, feel free to call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181 (or, to leave a message en Español, call 866-840-6574). As always, I look forward to serving you in Frankfort in the days and weeks ahead.
I have long been a leading advocate for education in Kentucky. From improvements to student accountability testing in 2009 to continuous efforts to increase the number of college degree holders in the state, my support for public education has been constant. The state Council on Postsecondary Education report on its college readiness and success initiative “Stronger by Degrees” is showing growth in the number of degrees and credentials conferred especially at the undergraduate level, and some marked improvement in graduation rates.
Late last year I received some information from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University in Washington DC on the impact of education—specifically, college education—on a person’s lifetime earnings. According to data in the Center’s report “The College Payoff” which is an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007-2009 American Community Survey, a college degree can take someone a long way economically.
The report states that in 1999, lifetime earnings of someone with a bachelor’s degree were, on average, $2.7 million in 2009 dollars--or 75 percent more than high school graduates earned in 1999. Today, the report says, “the premium on college education has grown to 84 percent,” meaning the earnings over a lifetime are even greater for a degree holder.
What is most surprising in the report is how strong a bachelor’s degree fared against more advanced degrees in the workforce in that data from 1999. Advanced degrees, including professional degrees (i.e, law and medical degrees), had greater earnings potential than a bachelor’s in managerial, professional and health fields and in education, but in all other fields--including STEM (engineering, technology, i.e,) and community service and the arts, a holder of a bachelor’s degree fell only slightly below lifetime earning’s potential for professional degree holders and, in the case of community service and the arts, only slightly below a holder of a master’s degree.
I would like to spend a little more time exploring this report, and what it implies, in the weeks before we lawmakers return to Frankfort on Feb. 5 to resume the 2013 Regular Session. I hope to share more of the data in the report in my next column. Until then, have a good week.
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