At a year-end press conference Thursday, Gov. Matt Bevin credited the passage of many new business-friendly laws for the record-breaking levels of investment and new business brought to the state in 2017.
Bevin said the state has seen many companies now looking to locate in Kentucky because of the passage of right-to-work legislation.
“This year alone, Kentucky has had a record-breaking $8.9 billion in new business investment, with more than 16,000 new jobs added. Right-to-work has directly affected that growth,” Bevin said.
The governor also added passage of a repeal of the prevailing wage has saved communities $100 million. The state’s new medical review panels law, he said, will help improve Kentucky’s healthcare system and legal liability climate.
Education improvements were also a theme of the year in review press conference with Bevin applauding the implementation of performance-based funding for higher education and the passage of charter school legislation.
“Before this past legislative session, Kentucky was one of only seven schools in the country that did not have school choice for students and families. School choice is a powerful thing,” Bevin said.
Bevin also touted the work of the administration and legislature on workforce issues with the passage of a $100 million investment in workforce readiness and dual credit scholarships for students.
The governor also applauded justice reform legislation Senate Bill 120, a bill strongly supported by the Chamber, and other justice efforts saying the “commitment to criminal justice reform is making a transformative difference in Kentucky.”
From the executive level, the Bevin administration’s Red Tape Reduction initiative has seen 188 regulations repealed and 225 amended, which Bevin called “economically transformative.”
Looking ahead to 2018, Bevin said there is still a lot to do. The governor stated he now feels it is not logistically possible to have a special session on pension reform before the end of the year but said pensions will be tackled in the first part of the 2018 session.
“We’ve got pensions to solve, we’ve got taxes to modernize, we’ve got a budget that’s going to be a doozy,” Bevin said of challenges lawmakers will face in the upcoming session.
The governor noted that Kentucky’s pension debt is among the worst in the country and said because of that and other challenges, the previous budget which cut most of state government by 9 percent “was child’s play compared to what’s coming.”