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Rep. Randy Bridges Legislative Update
By Rep. Randy Bridges
PADUCAH - After an extremely busy and productive 30-day legislative session, the 2021 Regular Session adjourned “sine die” at just a few minutes shy of midnight on Tuesday, March 30. Sine die is a Latin term that essentially means “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.” While this is a short session, our agenda more closely resembled that of a 60-day session, but I am pleased with the work we did for our Commonwealth and plan to spend the next few weeks reviewing some of the bills we passed into law this year. While I generally believe less is more when it comes to government, we can use the legislature’s authority as the law-making body to adopt policies that reflect the priorities and values of our people.

Because of the infusion of federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March, this session presented the legislature with a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to invest $2.6 billion into our state. Of that amount, $2.4 billion is to be dedicated to infrastructure projects, direct aid and other limited uses. The remaining $185 million must be spent on capital projects "directly enabling work, education and health monitoring" in response to the pandemic.

In addition to holding sole authority for making laws, the legislature also holds the responsibility for raising revenue and spending state dollars. Ultimately, this means that allocating ARPA funds falls under our authority. We are committed to crafting good, long term public policy. The investments we made this session with American Rescue Plan Act funds reflect this philosophy and future allocations will as well. This session we allocated $1.36 billion in federal money to invest in the long-term sustainability of our unemployment insurance program, expanding broadband, and upgrading decaying or inadequate infrastructure.

After a great deal of consideration and discussion, the legislature allocated approximately $1.36 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds during the 2021 Regular Session.

-We were able to use $575 million of ARPA funds to cover our debt and future costs on the federal unemployment insurance trust fund. (HB 382)

-$250 million to the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) to replace aging water infrastructure.

-$250 million in ARPA funds directed to the Broadband Deployment Fund to reach unserved and underserved areas. (HB 320)

-$50 million of ARPA funds for the deployment of broadband for economic development purposes. (HB 382)

-$127 million for replacing and renovating aging public school facilities. (HB 556)

-$12 million for county jails to help mitigate spread of COVID-19 (HB 556)

-$37 million to help with prison population. (HB 556)

-$53 million for interior renovations of Capitol. (HB 556)

-$5 million for exterior maintenance and renovations of Capitol Annex. (HB 556)

In addition to the ARPA funds, the House and Senate made strategic investments in other areas of our state with general fund dollars, including:

-$140 million in additional funding for kindergarten, freeing districts up to invest in remedial programs, as well as focus on improving reading and math comprehension. 

-$10 million for a new TIF district for West Louisville.

-$20 million for rural hospitals through a revolving loan program.

-$75 million towards the construction of vocational education facilities.

There are no frills in how we spent money this session. Frankly, there should not be as every dollar we spend – both federal and state money - comes out of the pockets of taxpayers. I expect us to continue to be intentional and strategic and seek input as we consider the next step. We know that there will be a rush to appropriate the remaining money but we have the opportunity and obligation to contemplate policies that will benefit Kentuckians for generations.

As always, I hope you will feel free to contact me with any questions or issues. I can be reached here at home anytime or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Please feel free to email me at Randy.Bridges@lrc.ky.gov.

Views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of West Kentucky Star.com, Bristol Broadcasting or any employee thereof. Bristol Broadcasting makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.

Published 09:29 AM, Friday Apr. 02, 2021
Updated 09:32 AM, Friday Apr. 02, 2021

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