In the News: Edelen considering audit, local right-to-work movement grows and more

CenteredCMYK_NoTaglineState Auditor Adam Edelen is considering undertaking a comprehensive performance audit of the Kentucky Retirement System called for by the Kentucky Chamber.

The Louisville Courier-Journal was first to report that Edelen estimates an audit at the scale proposed by the Chamber would cost around $150,000 to complete, according to a letter Edelen sent to Senate President Robert Stivers who inquired about what such an investigation would cost the state.

As the Chamber noted when calling for the audit last month, Edelen stated in the letter he knows other audits of the system have been done but said any new review would have to dig deeper into the system with outside council.

“It is glaringly obvious to me that a serious and thorough examination into investment strategies is what is needed at this time,” Edelen wrote. “What’s more, as taxpayer watchdog, I’m deeply concerned about issues related to transparency over fees being paid to outside investment advisors.”

Kentucky Chamber senior vice president of public affairs Bryan Sunderland told the paper the estimated cost of the audit is worth the added expertise needed to look into the system and make sure the system is operating up to standards.

“You want to make sure that you’ve got good experts looking at it, and with billions of dollars at stake, that’s a very small investment to make sure the system is running as efficiently as possible,” Sunderland said.

More counties passing right to work ordinances

As right-to-work legislation continues to be a big debate at the state level, many Kentucky counties are passing their own ordinances to make their regions more competitive.

In the last month, Warren, Simpson, Hardin, Fulton and Todd counties have passed right-to-work ordinances while Cumberland and Pulaski counties have given first readings to similar proposals, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Read what Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson told the paper about the issue:

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President David Adkisson said he anticipates that 20 counties “in pretty short order” will adopt right-to-work ordinances in the coming weeks.

“The people who are promoting this are people on the front line who are recruiting new jobs to their communities,” Adkisson said.

Adkisson, a former Owensboro mayor and former chamber of commerce executive there, said he is convinced that Kentucky loses thousands of jobs each year to right-to-work states.

“In my Owensboro days, I worked with prospects who went to other states and … who were telling me that right to work was a significant factor,” Adkisson said.

At the state level, the state Senate passed right-to-work legislation Senate Bill 1 during the first week of the 2015 session and has sent the bill to the House.

Public-private partnership bill to be filed when session convenes in February

Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, will be filing a bill dealing with Chamber supported public-private partnerships (P3) when lawmakers return to Frankfort Feb. 3, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

After P3 legislation was vetoed by the governor last year when a last minute amendment was added to the bill before its passage, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has made it clear in 2015 the state needs to pass the bill and has placed a large focus of transportation projects.

The Louisville paper noted the support of the Kentucky Chamber and other supporters who believe public-private partnerships will help to encourage both state and local governments to accelerate construction and save money on public construction projects.

Courier-Journal reporter Tom Loftus writes:

A 2013 report by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce defines a P3 as any “contractual agreement between a public agency and a private-sector entity to deliver a service or provide a facility for use by the general public.”

The report says P3s usually involve “a private entity working with a government agency to provide financing, construction and operation of an infrastructure project, such as a highway, bridge or building.”

Dave Adkisson, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said, “There are a lot of dollars that can be saved by employing the resources of the private sector…And in a time when we’re struggling to buy new textbooks for our students, we need to find every possible efficiency.”

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Jacqueline Pitts
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