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Developing budget first priority of legislators

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From the Senate

By Sen. Gary Tapp

FRANKFORT ee" As you read this, the 2010 General Assembly Session has convened.

It will be a 60-day session in which our first priority will be developing a budget under serious financial constraints.

We will also be looking at pro-life legislation, legislative retirement reform, government transparency, allowing the people to decide on whether they would like to expand gambling, as well as other issues.

It promises to be a busy session.

We expect a budget shortfall of about $1 billion.

Now the Governor has recently stated that this figure is more like $1.5 billion.

I agree with many senators and representatives that his figure is overly pessimistic.

The people of Kentucky do not deserve scare tactics but realistic decisions. We must look at the budget soberly, the same way families do.

I believe that the Governor is mistaken in his belief that expanding gambling will solve our budget problem. It is the Senate’s position that the people should decide whether or not they want expanded gambling through a constitutional amendment.

Now, more than ever, our budget needs to match what our actual revenues are and not what our spending desires might be.

I expect to be involved in legislation to protect the lives of the unborn.

It is my hope that the House will support the legislation this time, unlike in past years.

We need to strengthen our informed-consent statutes.

A proposed bill would direct the doctor to offer to make available a sonogram picture of the baby to a woman considering an abortion.

All patients, deserve to have all the facts about a medical procedure before choosing to have the procedure.

There is no extra cost since sonograms are already done to gauge the age of the fetus.

I will also continue to work toward increasing the opportunities for physical activity for our children during the school day.

Data has shown that children who exercise do better in school and there is the added benefit of improved health. We will also be monitoring the implementation of last year’s Senate Bill 1 which replaced the CATS test.

We must ensure that our progress in education continues forward. In this vein, the Senate is working on legislation to improve math and science education.

In the wake of various scandals that have erupted involving quasi-governmental entities such as the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Senate will look into their spending practices.

Other bills being discussed will strengthen legislative ethics and put all government spending online where it can easily be searched.

I look forward to this session and I ask that you call me on the toll-free message line, 1-800-372-718 with any questions or comments. The TTY message line is also toll-free, 1-800-896-0305.

For further information on pending legislation and the General Assembly, you can visit the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov.

Senator Tapp represents the 20th Senate District, which includes Bullitt, Shelby and Spencer Counties.