melinda gibbons prunty CURRENTBELTON, Ky. (3/6/18) — Pension Update: Much of the input I am receiving regarding SB1 is negative. I wonder how informed everyone is to the fact that if something is not done, no one will have a state pension moving forward. Unfortunately, previous administrations did nothing to address this issue nor did they address tax reform.

It is easy to do nothing for decades then complain that the problems were created simply because they were being addressed. We passed a balanced budget this past week and many folks on the other side of the aisle voted for the budget because there is a commitment to address tax reform, hopefully, during this session as time allows. Others seem to understand the situation and have for years; many of the changes are not unexpected. Because it was basically ignored for years, it has spiraled out of control.  http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/18RS/SB1.htm
 
HB366, a revenue bill to fund a balanced budget, passed last week and has been sent to the Senate. A 50 cent per pack tax on cigarettes, expected to generate nearly $240 million over the next two years, and a 25 cent per dose tax on opioids at the distributor level, expected to generate an estimated $70 million each year, passed the House. The monies produced will be applied to HB200 to support a balanced budget that restored several line items that had been eliminated.
 
Over the biennium, HB200 increases the full funding of the Kentucky Retirement System by $774.5 million and Teachers Retirement System by $89.1 million to fully fund the ARC at a level never before seen in Kentucky for a total of $4.8 billion. The House budget plan would, if it passes the Senate as is, restore health insurance for retired teachers at a cost of $59.5 million in year one. In FY19, it provides $11.8 million and in FY20, it provides $3.2 million to KTRS to fully fund the teacher match for health benefits.  In addition, $129 million was added over the next two years to fully fund health insurance for active teachers.
 
SEEK monies were increased to $4,055/student and $4,056/student in the first and second years respectively, the highest level SEEK monies have ever been set. Transportation funding was restored to current levels at $127,800,000. Loan commitments, Nickel Equalization, funding for the Governor’s Scholar Program and the Adult High School Pilot Program were remain intact. Over $600 million was added above and beyond the Governor’s proposal.
 
Other items included in the budget were monies for HB1, the Adoption and Foster Care Reform bill. Additional funding for Social Workers, funding for Family Resource & Youth Centers and kinship and relative placement were restored or added as well. Kentucky State Police will receive funds for much needed new cruisers, rifles and an upgrade to their communications system. Substance abuse programs will be funded as well as monies for the Access to Justice Program. https://courts.ky.gov/commissionscommittees/KAJC/Pages/default.aspx
 
Monies for higher education, veterans and funding for the Commission on Human Rights were all restored along with many other items. The Commonwealth’s debt service is less than the target rate of 6 percent. Tough decisions must be made and taxing the two items that were stated above were done so in order to create new revenues to fund critical priorities and were targeted behaviors we want to discourage among the citizens to improve health.

On another topic, the 2018 Junior Chef Applications deadline is drawing closer. The deadline for cooking teams to be registered is March 15. The program teaches essential food preparation skills while at the same time teaching them about the importance of buying nutritious foods from local KY Proud farmers. To register, go to http://www.kyagr.com/junior-chef/.
 
The much-awaited Service Area at Beaver Dam is scheduled for its grand opening at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 16. The ribbon cutting is open to the public.

I continue to enjoy seeing constituents from time-to-time as they are able and visiting in Frankfort. Please let me know if you plan to come up for a visit. I can request gallery passes for you and have them ready outside the chamber before session.
 
I want to thank you once again for allowing me to be your voice in The People’s House. I welcome your comments and concerns on any issue and can be reached, regardless if in session or not, through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at-1-800-372-7181, at 502-564-8100 Ext. 686, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please follow me on Facebook @melindagibbonsprunty. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov
 
Note: Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty represents the 15th House District serving Muhlenberg and southeastern Hopkins counties which includes White Plains, Morton’s Gap, Anton as well as sections of Nortonville, Earlington and SE Madisonville. She is Vice-Chair of the Health & Family Services Committee and serves as a member of the Education, IT & Small Business, Medicaid Advisory & Oversight Committees, the Budget Review Subcommittee on Education and is a member of the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Advisory Committee http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ColonCancer.htm

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