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February 4, 2019 6:52pm

Speaker Osborne updates GLI investors as session reconvenes

Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne addressed a gathering of Greater Louisville business leaders this afternoon, just one day ahead of part two of the 2019 state legislative session. Osborne touched on a range of House priorities he expects the legislature to address this year. His remarks kicked off GLI’s first Capitol Connection event of 2019, an event series designed to connect GLI investors to policy leaders at the local, state, and federal levels. In addition to Speaker Osborne’s remarks, GLI Chief Operating Officer provided an update on the progress already being made on GLI priorities in 2019 on both sides of the river.  

Speaker Osborne covered a range of issues, including welfare reform, school safety, updates to the tax code, and improvements to local school governance, but much of his talk focused on the continuing need for meaningful public pension reform. He noted that, despite the urgency of the issue and the overwhelming costs of public pensions to the state general fund (14%), a quick agreement on how to move forward is unlikely. “Anyone who thinks that we will have a quick agreement on this issue is wrong. …  This continues to be, from both a policy and political standpoint, the most divisive and most controversial issue that we have dealt with in the modern history of Frankfort,” said Osborne.

Speaker Osborne at GLI’s Capitol Connection event on February 4, 2019.

Osborne and other legislative leaders announced the formation of a Public Pensions Working Group at the start of session, a decision that GLI’s Sarah Davasher-Wisdom pointed to as a sign of progress. GLI recently submitted comments to the members of the Working Group urging them to pursue a “bold, all-of-the-above strategy” to solve Kentucky’s public pension crisis. The group has been meeting since early January but has not yet released recommendations for a potential solution. However the General Assembly chooses to proceed on pension reform, Osborne emphasized that a legislative package would need to be strong enough to overcome both political and legal challenges.  

In remarks highlighting progress already made on GLI priorities 2019, GLI’s Sarah Davasher-Wisdom pointed out the numerous members of the Louisville Metropolitan Caucus serving in legislative leadership positions. “Greater Louisville has never been better positioned for success in Frankfort,” said Davasher-Wisdom. She also highlighted movement on legislation such as Senate Bill 3, an important local school governance bill that the Senate passed last month, and Nurse Licensure Compact legislation in Indiana. In a huge win for regionalism, the Indiana House approved an NLC bill last week 96-0.

At the conclusion of the event, Osborne addressed questions from the audience on several key GLI priorities. On the issue of criminal justice reform, he stated that there is considerable support for bail reform in the legislature. In response to a question about making improvements to Kentucky’s legal liability climate, he stressed obstacles posed by past state Supreme Court decisions but suggested legislation on certificates of merit offered promise. One audience member asked how Frankfort and Jefferson County Public Schools can work together to improve educational outcomes for students. Osborne responded that the legislature needs to be more responsive to JCPS’s unique needs but added that Jefferson County must speak to Frankfort in a unified voice. Finally, when asked about the possibility of the legislature voting to give local governments more control over local revenue, Osborne stated that he supported legislation allowing for a local option sales tax though he felt past proposals were incomplete. Osborne noted that future state tax reform measures would likely include some form of local government tax reform as well.

Keep an eye out for more GLI Capitol Connection events in 2019 by checking greaterlouisville.com/events. Special thanks to our 2019 Capitol Connection presenting sponsor, Norton Healthcare. Follow GLI Advocacy throughout the 2019 session on Twitter and on our blog, Policy Distilled.