Legislators eye special session as they begin prep work on budget

07/10/2017 04:15 PM

FRANKFORT – With a special session looming this fall to address pension and tax reform, some members of the 2017 Interim LRC subcommittee on 2018-2020 Budget Preparation and Submission say that it’s hard to think about the next budget without knowing what will be addressed in the likely event that Gov. Matt Bevin calls legislators back to Frankfort later this year.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, says he finds it hard to look at the upcoming 2018-20 budget without knowing what results come out a potential special session late this year.

“If the governor calls a special session on pension and tax reform then we’re going to have a much clearer road map as to what the 2018 budget looks like,” McGarvey said. “I think we need to see what the real projections are, and again, until we see the projections, and until we know whether or not we’re going to have a special session, it’s hard to speculate what that document is going to look like.”

Count McGarvey as one who believes that a specials session is necessary prior to the 2018 budget session, saying that there will be no time in the 60 day session to address tax and pension reform as well as all of the other issues the General Assembly needs to address in 2018.

“It would be very difficult to do a budget, all of the other legislation, as well as something as monumental as tax reform in a 60-day window,” McGarvey said.

Committee Co-Chair Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, acknowledges that a potential special session is out there, but says that it’s the duty of the committee to proceed with the regular process of looking ahead to the 2018-2020 budget.

“We’re proceeding as is under current tax policy, and the current rules that we have to operate on,” Rudy said. “If we get to the point where we can do something with a special session, and as those dialogues continue, then we’ll be able to make adjustments to what our forecasts are, we’ll be able to manage that.”

Rudy admits that lawmakers have to make decisions as to addition cuts in areas like education because the General Assembly could be risking Kentucky’s future growth and success if some of those areas continue to sustain additional cuts to fix the pension crisis.

“We’ll always have to weigh that in and look at the basic needs that the services provide,” Rudy said. “Across the board cuts are tough. I’d like to do concentrated cuts, yet anytime you start doing those and hold some things harmless, that makes the overall cuts go up.”

Rudy admits that it will be up to Gov. Bevin to formulate an effective tax and pension plan for the special session and get legislators on board before even calling them in to Frankfort.

“Once his plan comes out, he’s got to sell it to the members of the General Assembly and to the public because, I think if he doesn’t, it will be a disaster,” Rudy said.

Rudy wants to be clear as to what solutions are agreed upon during a special session to fix tax and pension reform will be something that will have to be done over time.

“Anything that we do is probably going to have to be phased in,” Rudy said. “We’re not going to fix the pension problem overnight, it wasn’t created overnight. Hopefully, we can set some sunset provisions once we reach a certain level, we can give some relief like we’ve done in some other things including workman’s compensation.”


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