Speaking to the Russell County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover discussed the success of the 2017 General Assembly and the potential for a special legislative session on pension and tax reform.
On the topic of the potential for a special session, Hoover said that the Governor has said he will call a special session on pension and tax reform sometime after August 15th. Hoover noted it would probably be later than that because the consultants that were hired to look into the pension problem have recently announced that they will not have their report finalized until the end of August.
Hoover said that he does see the need for pension reform and that if something is not done soon that the state retirement systems could be facing insolvency in just a few short years. When discussing comprehensive tax reform, the Speaker noted that he has not heard from Kentuckians that there is a “crisis” when discussing tax reform and that at this time, it may not be the will of the General Assembly, or the people of Kentucky, to overhaul Kentucky’s tax system.
On the legislative victories already seen this year, Hoover told the business crowd that with Republicans taking control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in over 90 years, they knew they would pass several significant pieces of pro-business legislation that had been stalled for many years. In a historic move, the legislature passed several bills in just the first week of session, including right to work and repeal of the prevailing wage and Hoover noted many have called this legislative session “one for the ages.”
Noting that the pro-business pieces of legislation are already reaping results here in Kentucky, Hoover said the state has seen $5.8 billion in economic investment in the first six months of the year, breaking all previous annual records. Hoover credited much of this economic growth to new business-friendly laws.
Hoover gave the example of Braidy Industries, whose CEO has credited the legislative passage of right to work as one of the main reasons they will locate their aluminum facility in Greenup, Kentucky. Braidy has said they will be hiring over 500 full time employees with an average starting salary of $75k.
Talking politics, Hoover said since becoming Speaker, he has worked across party lines and has tried to always do what is in the best interest for the citizens of the Commonwealth. Noting that he is leading the House in a bipartisan manner, he mentioned that two task forces have been created with legislative members from both sides of the aisle, one on adoption and another on infrastructure.