State leaders deliver jokes, policy statements and political hints at Kentucky Chamber Day

At the 2016 Kentucky Chamber Day, speakers joked about the absence of a major speaker, talked about the need to address the state’s pension problems and dropped some political hints about what could be coming next in the legislative makeup.

In his first Chamber Day speech, new Governor Matt Bevin discussed the need to work in a bipartisan way to tackle issues like the state’s pension problems and coming up with a two-year budget. But in that, Bevin warned of the lack of dollars the state will see compared to the needs and requests that will be presented this year.

“I’ve committed myself to bringing good business principles to Kentucky. Those things that will send a message to employers that this is a place to expand…one thing we will do in this session is focus on the budget. There will be changes. It will be more austere because we must get our fiscal house in order,” Bevin told the crowd.

First up on the speaking roster, House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover delivered some jabs about Speaker Stumbo not being in attendance at the event while also alluding to some changes he expects in their legislative chamber that could be on the horizon.

Hoover told the crowd he expects the coming Monday to be a “historic day in the Commonwealth.” While he did not elaborate on those comments, his caucus continues to grow with the current makeup of the state House sitting at 50-46 with four special elections coming up in March.

Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones also made political jokes about Stumbo’s absence saying he thought “Governor Bevin had already hired him” when he heard the speaker wouldn’t be at the event Thursday night. Bevin has hired one member of the House Democratic caucus for a position within his administration and appointed another member to a judgeship, causing the Democrats to have to fight to keep those seats in the upcoming elections.

Legislative speakers also spoke about policy in their remarks as House Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards, who filled in for Stumbo at the event, talked about the need for the legislature to fix the funding issues faced by the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System. The House’s top priority, House Bill 1, will be Stumbo’s bonding bill that seeks to bond $3.3 billion to shore up the system.

Speaking right before the governor, Senate President Robert Stivers emphasized the need for policy over politics and urged his Democratic colleagues to have a real dialogue with Bevin as the state faces many issues in the 2016 session.

For full video coverage of the 2016 Chamber Day event, visit the KET website.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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