Story by Bella Utley, Contributing writer
Bryan Sunderland, legislative director for Gov. Matt Bevin, spoke during the Breakfast at Business meeting held by the Murray Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
“I like to step back and view this from a business perspective,” Sutherland said. “My last 10 years I worked with a Chamber of Commerce and business leaders in Frankfort, Kentucky.”
Bevin was elected in December 2015, and Sunderland joined his administration in January 2016.
Sunderland said in the past year Kentucky had the most fiscally-responsible budget in “decades” because Bevin declared a 9 percent budget cut across the state, which Sunderland said allowed for 1.2 billion dollars to be added to the pension system.
He said Kentucky’s pension system is one of the worst in the nation.
“It is a challenge not only for the business community, but also school teachers and public employees,” Sunderland said.
Kentucky plans to continue this two-year budget cycle in the future in order get the state out of debt. The administrative board is working with a public financial firm to change the budget system.
Bevin also maintained focus on education and the work force. Sunderland said Kentucky put $39 million toward elementary, middle and high schools in the state. Extra money was allocated for dual credit in high school as well.
There were also 100 million dollars committed to benefiting the work field.
“What Murray needs isn’t necessarily going to be the same as what Louisville needs,” Sunderland said. “We are a very diverse state.”
The program administration allows local areas to come together and find what’s best for the workforce and education systems in their community. Sunderland said the budget allocated $100 million for that reason and already has requests for four to five million dollars of that money.
“Bevin is also trying to reduce the size and scope of the government,” Sunderland said. “We need to have a government that knows when to step out of the way for businesses.”
The Kentucky government started a program called the Red Tape Reduction Initiative. This program is meant to help regulate restrictions and laws set by the state, which include 129,000 restrictions.
Sunderland said there are good reasons for these regulations, but some are “unnecessarily lengthy” and “unreasonable.” In this ongoing process, 103 restrictions have been repealed, 197 have been targeted for repeal, 86 have been amended and 438 have been targeted for amending.
The state government asked all businesses to look at the restrictions and ask questions about the productivity of these laws and go to the Red Tape Reduction website with feedback.
Sunderland also spoke on the recent elections for the House of Representatives and Senate.
Donna Keys, AM representative from Froggy Radio, said she agrees with some things Bevin is doing, and she said he has some good ideas.
She said she is excited that there are business leaders now in the government, not strictly political leaders.
“I think we just need change,” Keys said. “It will be interesting to see what having a new president will throw into the mix.”