By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
Since Republicans gained control of the legislative bodies and governor’s mansion in recent years, many major reforms have been passed that were top priorities for the GOP that had sat on the back burner for decades including right-to-work, repeal of the prevailing wage, charter schools and others.
The Republican majorities have also made tough decisions on areas including pension and tax reforms. So, what comes next?
In interviews with The Bottom Line, Acting House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers detailed their priorities heading into the 2019 session.
Acting Speaker Osborne said after seeing passage of many of their major goals and making progress on the financial condition of Kentucky he feels the most important thing legislators can do now is be good managers of the state and ensure progress after the passage of such bills.
“We’ve got to be very fiscally responsible. And we’ve got to continue to manage what we have built and what is being built. As success continues, as our revenues grow, as the economy of Kentucky continues to expand, we’ve got to be very, very responsible in how we handle that,” Osborne said.
Osborne added it is critical for lawmakers to be cautious of the growth being seen by the state and not overspend or “start playing Santa Claus” with revenues seen from these new policies.
“I believe that the next two years, the next four years, are going to be as important as the past two years. Because now we’ve put the framework in place to grow this economy and grow Kentucky, to make Kentucky a better place to do business and raise a family, now we’ve got to make sure we keep it that way,” Osborne said.
Senate President Stivers said he would like to see the legislature continue to look at education policies and how the state can better approach the education system.
“We really need to look at how we prepare our upcoming workforce, starting in middle schools, high schools, all the way into college or vocational or technical education,” the Senate President said.
And as Kentucky continues to struggle with the scourge of heroin and opioid addiction and many citizens overdosing, Stivers said he believes the General Assembly needs to place a bigger emphasis on forming solutions to the drug crisis.
“We’ve got to figure out this opioid and drug abuse problem. To me it is the single biggest eroding factor of our state, from either the family unit to the educational capabilities, to the cost of jails and incarceration, to having a workforce that is capable of producing a quality product,” Stivers said.