Kentucky lawmakers return to Frankfort Tuesday for the start of the 2013 legislative session, and Gov. Steve Beshear is already predicting the need to go past the 30 days scheduled for work.
“We’ve got pension reform we need to deal with, tax reform, redistricting at some point will need to be dealt with, raising the drop-out age from 16 to 18, and a lot of other issues,” Beshear said.
“And that’s a whole lot to address in a very short session.”
The General Assembly will convene for four days this week then meet again in February.
Beshear says he’s not sure whether expanded gambling will be discussed during this year, but it too is a looming issue. Kentucky’s Constitution requires a three-fifths supermajority to raise taxes during a short session, so Beshear predicts some bills will spill over into a special session, which costs the state around $60,000 extra each day.
Beshear is prepared to call state lawmakers into a special session to tackle several legislative issues, some leftover from previous years.
Besides the high priority topics of pensions and tax reform, Beshear says other issues need to be addressed.
“We’ve got redistricting, we’ve got the gaming issue that is out there,” he said. “I don’t know whether that will be part of this short session or not. So there’s a lot of tough issues that are at the top of the list. We need to address them all. We don’t need to kick the can down the road from a revenue standpoint or from a pension standpoint that’s for sure.”
A study by the Pew Center on the States recently recommended that Kentucky dramatically increase contributions to the state pension systems, which face billions of dollars in unfunded liability. And a tax reform panel appointed by Beshear issued recommendations last month on ways the state could generate some $690 million in additional revenue.