When Kentucky’s legislators gather in January for the 2015 General Assembly, they will face issues that could have a major impact on the business community.
The Kentucky Chamber, the state’s largest business association, will watch closely, looking for ways to make state government more effective and accountable.
Improving education will continue to be the No. 1 priority of the chamber because education represents the future of Kentucky’s workforce. Supporting our schools and Kentucky’s core academic standards is critical to our success.
Resolving the state’s public pension problems is also a priority. Despite important reforms in recent years, the system is still struggling. Lawmakers must find the funds needed to keep promises made to state workers and retirees while balancing long-term sustainability. Our pension obligations have already downgraded the financial standing of our state, and how we address them will affect everything else state government does – like funding our schools, repairing our roads and other important priorities to help us be the best.
The chamber will again support a bill that will encourage partnerships between private companies and the government. This legislation – which we refer to as P3 for public-private partnerships – would create jobs while saving tax dollars and providing needed projects and services. The chamber’s legislative agenda is a comprehensive approach to creating a competitive business climate and investing in the future of the commonwealth. Other areas of focus include:
• The chamber supports the need for the General Assembly to address the long-term need for comprehensive tax reform that would include, among other items, a simplified tax code, a focus on prioritized government spending and support of growth-oriented policies that would improve the competitiveness of Kentucky’s business climate.
• The chamber supports an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would allow cities and counties the choice, with voter approval, to enact a local sales tax with a sunset provision, dedicated for the funding of transformational local projects.
• Right-to-work legislation that prohibits requiring any worker to join a union as a condition of employment is strongly supported by the chamber. The chamber believes union membership should be a matter of personal choice, and that enacting this legislation would put Kentucky on a level playing field with surrounding states when it comes to business recruitment
• The chamber will support the enactment of a charter school law to give all children access to the highest-quality education possible.
• The agenda also includes support for early childhood education and for protecting school funding.
Health and Wellness
• The Chamber will continue to support the creation of incentives for workplace-based wellness programs and enactment of a statewide smoke-free law.
• Improving the medical liability climate through medical review also is a priority item.
• Supporting the infrastructure of Kentucky’s signature coal industry has long been a priority for the chamber and that will continue in the 2015 session.
• The chamber will advocate for policies that strive for energy independence and encourage a sensible regulatory approach
Kentucky must consistently double down on its efforts to be competitive and to out-think other states in terms of creating jobs. Each time our policymakers come to Frankfort for a legislative session, we need to be there with solid proposals – not just about how we can keep up with the competition but how Kentucky can be the best!
— Dave Adkisson is president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce