The need for a one-year state budget addressing challenges of the pandemic will be a top priority and limit the legislature’s ability to cover a wide range of issues in 2021.
Stivers and Osbourne the growing cost of doing business and frustrations of business owners trying to survive regulations, layoffs and growing unemployment insurance claims.
Investment in infrastructure and long-term solutions for transportation funding, pension reform, criminal justice reform, and historic horse racing bills may also be coming in 2021.
The conversation to increase the gas tax continues as a potential lifeline for infrastructure investment needs, especially now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current 26-centers per gallon tax has not changed since 2011 while road construction costs have increased 42% in that time. Rep. Sal Santoro plans to sponsor a bill to address the issue in 2021.
A panel of legislators at the conference including Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfield, House Judiciary Chair Ed Massey, House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins, Senate Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, and Sen. Gerald Neal agreed that criminal justice issues must be addressed next year but sweeping reforms in a short session are unlikely.
“Our administration will focus on increased investment in education, short- and long-term solutions to ensure critical investments in infrastructure, and new jobs in industries of the future,” Beshear said. He pointed to revenue-generating measures like sports wagering and a bipartisan solution on historic racing and medical marijuana as potential steps forward.
For more on the upcoming session, sign up for the Kentucky Chamber’s annual Kentucky Chamber Day. It will be held online this year Jan. 7. Register online to attend the free event. Governor Beshear and top elected leaders are expected to share their visions for Kentucky’s economy, government and politics in the year ahead during the event.