Monitoring state, local issues

-A A +A
By Jimmy Higdon

As we look for ways to increase Kentucky’s competitiveness, we are also looking for ways to reduce excessive spending and keep taxpayers from being unduly burdened. 

On Thursday, the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation heard how other states are using Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a cost-effective strategy to repair aging infrastructure. According to a policy expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states and Puerto Rico have laws enabling PPPs for highways and bridges. I was pleased to learn Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet is open to using PPPs as a possible option when an appropriate project presents itself. Keep in mind, Public Private Partnerships do not relinquish state ownership, but rather give us another avenue to make infrastructure improvements in a way that is likely to lower costs, improve efficiency and increase quality.

Earlier in the week, the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation discussed one of the consequences of a new law aimed at taxpayers who fail to pay state taxes.  As of July 1, delinquent Kentuckians who do not respond to state revenue officials’ attempts to collect state taxes risk losing their driver’s licenses or professional licenses until they pay or agree to a payment plan. A spokeswoman for the Finance & Administration Cabinet said officials project the measure could net $10 million over the next two years. Committee members were reassured that all means to collect the taxes would be exhausted before this final step is taken. We will continue to monitor this situation.

Over the past few weeks, there have been public meetings in our community, and others, discussing the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline project. I have been working with the Senate President and Governor Beshear on this issue because I know how important it is to our community. We have the Governor’s assurance that there will be a full discussion on this issue. I will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed of any new developments. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at 1 (800) 372-7181, or my home at (270) 692-6945. I will keep you updated on what’s happening in Frankfort, but in the meantime, you can go to www.lrc.ky.gov to get the latest interim committee meeting information and more. 

Editor’s note: Senator Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) represents the 14th District including Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties. He is the chairman of both the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation; the vice chair of both the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee and the Transportation Committee, and a member of the 2012 SS HB 1 Implementation and Oversight Committee; the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, and Public Protection; the Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee; the Education Committee; the Health and Welfare Committee; the Program Review and Investigations Committee; and the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.