Pensions, children big winners in proposed Ky. budget

Published 8:41 am Thursday, January 25, 2018


State Representative

Last week, my colleagues and I gathered in the House chamber to hear Gov. Bevin present his proposed state budget for the next two years. There was much to like in his proposal, as well as some big challenges that we must confront. Like all comprehensive pieces of legislation, we will do our due diligence to review and examine each element, a process that has already begun.

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For starters, I was pleased to see the governor commit to providing $3.3 billion dollars in funding for our public pension systems. This is a priority I share, as I believe it is vital for us to meet our full obligation and keep our promises to all of our teachers and state workers. While numerous elements of the Governor’s budget will be modified by the General Assembly, providing full pension funding is one that I can commit to providing. This, along with increased funding for other critical government services, were offset by 6.25-percent cuts across much of state government, as well as by the elimination of many other government programs.

While the governor is required by our constitution to present us with a budget proposal, the General Assembly is responsible for actually passing a budget document. This process originates in the House, and our budget review subcommittees have already begun meeting and determining which areas of state government have the most need, and which programs need to be cut back in order to meet our obligations.

Even as many were clamoring about the prospect of double-digit cuts and even SEEK funding possibly being trimmed, the proposal prioritizes the most critical roles of government. Not only was K-12 classroom spending held harmless, but Gov. Bevin’s budget would provide $24 million for the Department of Community Based Services, in order to hire more social workers and increase their pay. Further, new funding for much-needed law enforcement equipment was proposed, as well as $34 million in order to fight the opioid epidemic from the Tobacco Settlement fund.

On both a personal and policy level, I was tremendously pleased to see the governor propose putting nearly $11 million in additional money toward bettering our foster care and adoption systems. This is an item that I will fight to keep in any final budget, and alongside comprehensive legislation that I plan to file soon, will be a large step forward in getting more children out of state custody and into loving homes.

There are some concerns with the governor’s budget proposal, which many of you have reached out and expressed to me. While many of the proposed cuts are far less than ideal, there is no doubt that some sacrifice has to be made in order to meet our obligations and fund essential services. Nonetheless, we will carefully review all elements of the proposal, and work to restore at least some funding to a few key areas, such as transportation dollars to local school districts.

Even as much attention is now focused on the budget and talks of a pension fix are ongoing, the House is continuing to advance legislation that will positively impact children and families. Last week, we passed Jenna’s Law, which expands the Commonwealth’s rape statutes to further protect minors. We look forward to seeing quick Senate action on this legislation, while we also look to move very soon on a Senate bill that gives crime victims explicit rights under the Kentucky Constitution. This measure would ultimately be up to the voters to decide, as it is a constitutional amendment and therefore would be on the ballot this November.

I look forward to hearing from you as we deal with many pressing issues, as well as work to craft a budget. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns that you may have.


Rep. David Meade is the majority caucus chairman in the state House of Representatives. He represents the 80th district, which includes Lincoln, as well as part of Pulaski County. Contact him with any questions, concerns, or advice. He can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at (800) 372-7181, or via e-mail at