Fourth District State Rep. Lynn Bechler and Fourth District State Sen. Robby Mills presented a legislative update to the Caldwell County Fiscal Court and Princeton and Fredonia city councils during a joint meeting Thursday at the Caldwell County Courthouse.
The Republican lawmakers spoke about issues being addressed at the state Capitol, and the outcome of this week's election.
Bechler told local government officials that the state House of Representatives will undoubtedly take another look at addressing the state's pension crisis, one of the worst in the U.S., during the next session.
"My sense is that there will probably not be an omnibus bill, but rather individual bills that address each of the different systems," said Bechler, of Marion. "In Kentucky, there are three systems that are separate and within those three systems there are eight plans."
"We have to come up with a resolution for eight plans rather than just one or two so they'll be high on the agenda."
The House will also look at continuing tax reform, building on changes from the previous session, he said.
"It appears to be working because we finished over budget for the transportation department and the general fund in the 2019 fiscal year," Bechler said.
He said additional general fund money went towards the pension crisis.
"Some things that are also going to come up are an increase in gas tax -- I'm confident that that'll be proposed," Bechler said. "It's a very difficult issue on several fronts."
Public officials would like to see an increase in the gas tax to help fund road maintenance and construction, but most residents are opposed because they can't afford what they're paying now, he said.
"I don't know what Gov.-elect Beshear wants to do with the gas tax, I haven't heard him comment on it at all," Bechler said. "I know that Gov. Bevin was talking about potentially raising the gas tax 15 cents a gallon, but with the election results that we just saw, it's going to be interesting to see."
He said he predicts there will be changes within the cabinet.
"I anticipate that the Kentucky Department of Education will be totally revamped by Gov.-elect Beshear and the head, Dr. Wayne Lewis, will probably be removed," Bechler said.
He said he thinks it will be incumbent upon the legislature and the new governor to work together.
Mills, of Henderson, said he has received several questions about Bevin's possible challenge of the election results.
"Even after the recanvass, if Gov. Bevin wants to have a recount or reassessment of the election, it goes straight to the legislature," Mills said. "The House will pick eight representatives in a lottery, the Senate will pick three representatives and there'll be an 11-member panel that will reassess the election."
"Unless there's something major that shows up in the recanvass, I really think that the governor should call and congratulate Gov.-elect Beshear and let us move forward. If there is an issue, we will follow the process."
With Fiscal Year 2020 coming up, Mills said the legislature will need all the 60 days allotted in the legislative session to make tough budget decisions.
"A lot of people don't understand this, but the budget actually starts and is crafted in the House and then it comes to the Senate for corrections or slight adjustments," Mills said. "The House looks at some of the hard things that need to be looked at and then our adjustments are normally philosophical to a certain degree."
The governor will have the budget for up to 12 days and the Senate has three or four days to override his vetoes.
"I really hope that Beshear follows through on some of his proposals so we can debate them because I believe many of the revenue issues he talked about are impractical and overinflated," Mills said.
He also addressed Medicaid, pensions, the gas tax and how the state handles unemployment.
"If we do not act on the Medicaid waiver and require able-bodied people to actually work or get an education or get training, when the economy switches again that $200 or $300 million issue that arose at the beginning of Obamacare is going to pop back up and bite us in the rear end," Mills said.