Pursuing legislation to improve public education will be the No. 1 priority of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce when the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly begins Jan. 6, President and CEO David Adkisson told Kyndle board members at a luncheon on Dec. 4.
That will include making sure that the tougher student standardized testing standards that were enacted in 2011 aren’t watered down, Adkisson said.
Additionally, the Kentucky Chamber wants to reduce the gap between the skills that employers need and what workers possess; pass legislation to authorize public charter schools, especially in struggling school districts; and provide more money for early childhood education to ensure that kids get off to a good start.
Close on the heels of education and workforce development, Adkisson said, are pensions and public-private partnerships.
The Kentucky Retirement System for non-schoolteacher state employees has been funded with only about half of the money needed to meet its obligations to pay benefits to current and future retirees. The Kentucky Chamber wants greater transparency of the state’s pension situation.
Expanding the use of public-private partnerships, or “P3s,” could save taxpayers money by allowing private companies and investors to provide capital for transportation and other infrastructure improvements in exchange for a share of future revenue or to run state parks.
Interstate 69 advocates in Western Kentucky and Southwestern Indiana envision using a P3 to put up much of the money needed to build a new bridge between Henderson and Evansville in exchange for the revenue from tolls collected on the bridge.
P3 legislation passed in 2014, but Gov. Steve Beshear reluctantly vetoed it because the bill contained a “poison pill” — an amendment added by a Northern Kentucky legislator that would prohibit tolls on a planned new Interstate 75/71 Brent Spence bridge between Covington and Cincinnati.
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