Kentucky Political News Headlines

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A&R and Budget Subcommittees

Here is a quick recap of the first Interim meeting of the Joint Appropriations & Revenue Committee and its various subcommittees.

IJC on A&R
The Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations & Revenue met this afternoon in Frankfort and heard presentations on the National Mortgage Settlement by staff from the Attorney General and an update on several Cabinet for Health & Family Services initiatives by Deputy Secretary Friedlander. Copies of the presentations are available for download HERE.

Sean Riley, with the Attorney General's office, gave a detailed presentation of the National Mortgage Settlement negotiated by the National Attorney General Association, which Kentucky participated in through Attorney General Conway. The presentation was very detailed, the main highlight is that of the $25 billion settlement Kentucky will receive $58.7 million. Those funds are directed into four buckets: $12 million in Foreclosure initiatives, $15.9 million for refinancing for underwater borrowers, $19.2 million in direct state payments, and $10.8 million in payments direct to borrowers. There was no specific details related to the $19.2 million in state payments, except that Mr. Riley said the state didn't have the money yet, but could draw it down.

Legislator reaction was related to getting information on the settlement from the AG's office to share with their constituents that have had issues with their mortgages.

Secretary Friedlander gave an overview of a wide range of CHFS Initiatives. Most are covered in detail in the presentation slides, but here are a few highlights:

- KASPER - Friedlander touched on the implementation of HB 1, specific to KASPER. He mentioned that paperless registration for the KASPER program is already in place, that daily reporting by pharmacies will begin on July 1, 2013, and that the cabinet is planning to hire additional staff to managed the KASPER changes. Friedlander also mentioned that interstate data sharing has begun and currently Kentucky is able to data share with Alabama. By October, KY will be able to share with all our surrounding states.

Also, $4M from Kentucky's share of the National Mortgage Settlement will be used for the KASPER enhancements. This was placed in HB 1 to replace physician and pharmacist fees, which was included in the legislation as introduced.

- Social Workers - The General Assembly in the budget allowed for the hiring of more social workers and the Cabinet is working to get those folks hired and still maintain the numbers as they are losing several to attrition. They acknowleged some lapses in documentation and other areas that have come up over the past couple of months. They attributed that mostly to lapses in management in certain pockets of the state and to the replacement of experienced folks that have left with these new hires. Some legislators were very critical of the quality and credentials of the folks they were hiring and a fear that these "lapses" were becoming too common place.

- Construction - The Cabinet is not normally a big facilities construction type of agency, but they are in the middle of construction on replacement of the Glasgow Nursing Facility and Eastern State Hospital. Both of which are nearly 70% complete. Legislators asked a few questions in regards to programs and vendors at the Eastern State Hospital where the Cabinet is talking exclusively to Bluegrass MH/MR Board. If Bluegrass' plan isn't acceptable then the Cabinet will take the plan to bid.

The next meeting will be held on July 26.

Joint Meeting of Budget Review Subcommittee on K-12 & Post-Secondary Education
The Budget Review Subcommittee on Education heard presentations from CPE President Bob King and from Military Affairs on the Appalachian Youth Challenge Academy. Copies of the presentations are available for download CPE & Youth Academy.

CPE President King discussed adult education initiatives, specifically the Commonwealth College. This program was authorized during the 2012 Session and will utilize two public universities to focus on increasing degrees among adults. The two universities selected will be done so through an RFP process. More details in regards to the timeline, target market, and partnership with KCTCS are included in the presentation slides.

Representatives from the Department of Military Affairs gave an overview of the Kentucky Youth Challenge a program for at-risk youth. Most of the information provided was covered in the presentation slides.

Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation
The House and Senate members of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation heard testimony from the Transportation Cabinet in regards to the Road Fund. A copy of their presentation is available for download HERE.

The Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation met this morning in Frankfort. The Interim Joint Subcommittee includes both House and Senate members who are charged with putting together the Road Plan and Transportation Budget during the session. Today's meeting was a presentation by the Transportation Cabinet on the Road Fund. The meeting was short and to the point, as the Cabinet outlined current road fund revenues. Year to date, the Road Fund is on target to meet revenue estimates. The fund will need $102.4M in the final month to do so, and cabinet officials expect that will happen. There has been a 6.8% growth in revenue compared to this time last year. FY 13 revenues are estimated to be 1.5B and 1.6B in FY 14. The Cabinet also gave an overview of the gas tax. The tax is currently at 29.9 cents per gallon. Recently the index was triggered adding another 2.1 cents to the tax. The Revenue Cabinet will determine in July whether the index will be triggered again for the fourth quarter.