Budget, pension bills in hands of Senate

The top two priorities of the Kentucky General Assembly this year—passing a budget and pension reform—are both squarely in the hands of the state Senate more than two-thirds of the way through the session.

The House passed a biennial budget that did not come without some controversy last week, but Representative Myron Dossett says he is pleased it fully funds the actuarially required contribution to the pension funds.

Dossett says if the Senate approves the current pension reform bill in committee, he’ll be a no vote until more can be done to restore a larger annual cost of living adjustment for retired teachers.

Senator Whitney Westerfield urges Kentuckians to go to his website and review the proposed legislation and to offer feedback to their legislators while it awaits another hearing.

The House revenue bill that funds the budget calls for a 50-cent tax increase on a pack of cigarettes, a 25-cent per-dose tax to distributors of opioids and calls for the elimination of the $10 individual state income tax credit. Westerfield says he’ll take his time in deciding whether he’ll support the tax hikes.

Whatever version of the budget the Senate approves will head back to the House and a compromise will have to be ironed out in a conference committee made up of senators and representatives.