By CHAD MCCOY
50th District State Representatives
Monday, January 24, 2022 – In an extraordinary move aimed at giving us ample time to consider tax modernization, I joined my fellow MPs in voting 85 to 8 to approve a proposed budget to fund our agencies, programs and state services. . The version of the bill we approved includes record funding for education, a continued commitment to the state’s Fiscal Reserve Trust Fund, and wage increases for Kentucky State Police, employees government, social workers and educators.
Overall, HB 1 HCS includes $100 billion in funding from general, restricted, and federal dollars. While much of the money we allocate must go to specific categories, we have the ability to invest over $25.6 billion in General Fund funds. Of the $25.6 billion in general funds we have invested over the two years covered by our budget, more than $10.7 billion (41%) goes to K-12 public education . Although the bill does not specifically include a raise for educators, our goal was to provide additional funding so that local school boards could use their discretion to award raises to their employees.
Overall, the budget means an estimated additional $1.8 million for Nelson County Public Schools and $1.4 million for Bardstown Independent Schools in the first year alone.
This includes a significant increase in per-pupil (SEEK) funding, funding for the full cost of full-day kindergarten, assistance with transportation costs, and an additional $24 million in funding for our Family Resource Centers and youth services (FRYSC).
HB 1 HCS also includes funding increases for our public universities and technical schools. The measure provides just over $1.7 billion for the same two-year period. Specifically, it provides $50 million annually to the performance-based funding model available to University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University , Morehead State University, and Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges.
I am pleased to report that it also includes $20 million each year of the budget for a new health workforce initiative. HB 1 HCS also increases an existing allocation of $42 million annually for projected growth each year for the College Access Program (CAP), Kentucky Tuition Grant Program, and Work Ready Scholarship Program.
The budget bill also seeks to improve the services of our state’s health and welfare programs to make them more effective and efficient. While Kentucky ranks near the bottom in child welfare, the Cabinet struggles to find and keep qualified social workers. HB 1 HCS raises pay and institutes a retention payment for social workers, equating to a $25.6 million increase in year one and a $61.7 million increase in year two. It also funds an additional 100 social worker positions each year of the budget for a total of 200. To ensure accountability, the bill requires that the implementation of the staff increase be tracked and reported. The bill also increases the reimbursement rate for 1915c waiver services by 10% each year. The bill also provides for a pilot program to offer an expansion of mobile crisis services to provide mental health services in rural Kentucky. Additionally, the budget includes an additional $7.2 million in General Fund dollars in the first fiscal year and $14.4 million in General Fund dollars in the second fiscal year to expand the Seniors Meal Program.
HB 1 HCS is making a much-needed investment in our state’s law enforcement agency – the Kentucky State Police (KSP). The bill includes a pay increase of $15,000 for soldiers and an annual increase of $8,000 for those who serve as KSP dispatchers. It also allocates funds for integrated body camera systems, the third phase of a radio purchase and a $28.5 million training center at Eastern Kentucky University’s training facility.
This budget also provides clean water to more Kentuckians, offers competitive salaries to employees, and ends the wasteful practice of borrowing money for small maintenance and repair projects and building construction projects. assets that cost less than $3 million. All state employees will receive a 6% raise in fiscal year 22-23. However, since the state has not updated its personnel classification and compensation plan in decades, HB 1 HCS would require the firm to do so.
It is by growing our economy today that we can achieve the progress we want tomorrow. This means identifying opportunities for economic development and investing in our tourist destinations. We allocated $100 million each year to a rural product development initiative for commercial site development and invested $56.6 million in the first year and $67 million in the second year of the budget to renovations and repairs to our state parks.
Once again, our budget fully funds the required actuarial contribution for the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) and the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS). KRS would receive $1.2 billion per year and KTRS would receive approximately $1.067 billion in year one and $1.084 billion in year two. That’s $629 million more the first year and $646 million more the second year than what the law requires us to pay.
We also approved a transportation budget that, according to Budget Review Subcommittee Chairman Sal Santoro, “…is the beginning of the end of underfunding our state’s transportation needs.”
HB 241 includes an operating budget of $200 million in general fund, $200 million in restricted funds, and $1.6 billion in road funds each fiscal year. It grants $200 million for the state match required for the federal infrastructure package; includes $50 million each year for a special grant to help local governments maintain roads; allocates $10 million each year for a grant pool available to the state’s 52 general aviation airports.
I am particularly pleased to see that it is replacing over $180 million in allocations previously charged to the road fund with dollars from the general fund and moving that amount to the maintenance account. For too long, the state has used road fund money for non-road related services. This may all be state money, but this change makes how we spend it much more transparent.
As you can see, each of these expenses add up, and it’s easy to get carried away with spending. After all, spending money is much more fun than saving it. However, saving money was also a priority for us. Not only do we have more in our Fiscal Reserve Trust Fund than ever before in the state’s history, but we have left more than $1.14 billion in anticipated revenue unspent. Why? Because we are fully aware that it’s not our money, it’s yours. We budgeted for our state’s needs and worked hard to maximize every dollar we allocated. Ultimately, what’s left gives us the opportunity to give it back to taxpayers in the form of tax modernization.
I will continue to report on the budget as it evolves. Remember, this is the House spending plan and the Senate will no doubt make changes before moving to the free conference committee.
I hope you will feel free to contact me over the next few weeks. You can reach me by calling 502-564-8100, via the toll-free messaging line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or by emailing [email protected]