Opinion – Chris McDaniel: Interim Joint Committees hard at work in new fiscal year

I hope you had a safe and enjoyable Independence Day and are staying cool during these hot summer days. 

On July 1, Kentucky officially entered the new fiscal year, meaning budget-related legislation from the 2024 Legislative Session — including the state road plan that included a $450 million infusion from the state’s budget reserve trust fund — is now in effect. The state budget included more record funding for education, and House Bill 1 included $2.7 billion from the state’s budget reserve trust fund for one-time transformative projects in communities across Kentucky. I am pleased we made these critical investments while lowering your income tax to four percent. 

As we continue our efforts in Frankfort during the early weeks of the 2024 Interim, I want to provide you with the latest legislative updates from recent Interim Joint Committee (IJC) meetings. 

Sen. Chris McDaniel

The IJC on Health Services recently heard from representatives from the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. They reported nearly 80 percent of Kentucky’s 1,984 drug overdose deaths in 2023 were attributed to fentanyl. Dealers make a profit of between $15,000 and $20,000 per kilogram of fentanyl, and one kilogram produces up to 100,000 pills. Fentanyl is now the number one cause of death for 18- to 45-year-olds. This deadly drug that is taking the lives of children and law enforcement officers is being smuggled into the United States from Mexico. It is a critical and clear example of how border control issues make every state a border state. 

The committee also received a briefing on the state’s urgent mental health crisis intervention strategies. Critical updates included expanding the Crisis Intervention Team training for law enforcement and first responders to handle mental health emergencies better. Additionally, the committee discussed implementing a statewide mental health hotline to provide immediate support and resources for individuals in crisis. The hotline is set to launch by the end of the year, with significant funding allocated for training and infrastructure.

The IJC on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection heard from the Kentucky Community and Technical College Systems (KCTCS), which provided an overview of KCTCS’s engagement with military-connected students.

The presentation emphasized the importance of credential attainment, noting that KCTCS awards an average of 3,486 credentials annually to military-connected students. It also highlighted the tuition waiver benefit provided by the Commonwealth of Kentucky for veterans’ families. It mentioned the role of the system office director and veterans certifying officials at each college in facilitating military enrollment.

The Kentucky Public Pension Authority (KPPA) provided an update on the implementation of House Bill 8 from the 2021 session, which reformed how employers contribute to the Kentucky Employee Retirement System (KERS) for non-hazardous employees. HB 8 aims to deal with payroll cuts from downsizing and outsourcing by fixing each employer’s contribution rate based on their share of the total pension debt as of 2019. This means that employers will have a precise, fixed rate to pay into the pension system, ensuring more stable funding despite changes in payroll size.

The IJC on Transportation will hold its second meeting of the 2024 Interim at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex building. Topics will include updates on the driver’s licensing system and new regional offices, the NEVI electric vehicle charging station grant program, and KAVIS from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC). 

The IJC on Appropriations and Revenue will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 17. Budget Review Subcommittee meetings will occur in the morning on the same day as the Appropriations and Revenue Committee meeting. Agendas for these meetings are still pending but will be available at Legislature.ky.gov once determined. 

All meetings will be live-streamed on the LRC YouTube site. Select meetings will also be available on Kentucky Education Television (KET).

These discussions will help us navigate the interim period and prepare for the 2025 legislative session. Stay tuned for further updates, and contact my office anytime with your thoughts.

Chris McDaniel is a state senator from R-Ryland Heights representing the 23rd Senate District in northern Kenton County. He serves as co-chair of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue. He will lead Senate budget discussions regarding the next biennial state budget as co-chair of the 2024-2026 Budget Preparation and Submission Committee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *