By JAMES BROWN
Glasgow Daily Times
Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, spoke in Glasgow on Thursday at the Glasgow Rotary Club, covering future funding for the Affordable Care Act, how frequently the General Assembly meets, funding support for schools – both K-12 and post-secondary – and offering views on the implementation of Common Core Standards in public schools.
Bill Murrey pointed out in a question that part of the Medicaid expansion in Kentucky is funded by money from the federal government for the first two years
“What mechanisms are you all looking at to fund that cost” after the federal match expires, Murrey asked during the meeting at the Glasgow Golf and Country Club.
“We actually put language in this budget that is specific to this budget that says no general fund monies can be used for the expansion or for the health benefit exchanges,” said Givens, who represents the Ninth District, which includes Barren County. “A lot of people don’t understand those are two totally separate entities. I don’t know where we are going to find the money. That’s one of the great concerns we have. By 2020, we are picking up our full 10 percent, and the projections that I’ve seen indicate that ... is going to cost the state about $300 million.”
“We have two choices, we can either pay it or we can scale back the expansion,” Givens said. “As the expansion was done with executive authority outside the legislative body, as such, the next governor could choose ... to dial it back with no legislative input.”
Charley Goodman said the idea of putting before state voters a constitutional change in having the legislature meet every other year is a good idea.
“I think it would be better ... for results in the legislature if that every other year session be on non-election years,” he said.
“That’s a very astute observation,” Givens responded. “There is a lot of inactivity that happens because of that filing deadline being positioned where it is. ... You could also move that filing deadline ... to the very start of the session and you would know by Jan. 5 or the 10th or the 12th if you are going to have an opponent.”
Givens said another item to consider is the question of the budget process.
“Think about the fact that every time we elect a new governor, he or she has to write a budget and make that budget address about two weeks after they take office,” the senator said. “They’ve got a really brief period of time to come up to speed and introduce that budget to the people.”
Barren County Schools Superintendent Bo Matthews asked about money from the Kentucky Lottery that was passed on the premise as a funding source for education being moved into the state’s general fund.
“We’ve never failed to fully fulfill our KEES obligations,” Givens said. He said more of the money used for Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship funding will be used in the upcoming budget.
“That is disappointing because it goes against the message that was used in that lottery bill years ago,” the senator said.
The biennial budget is for the 2015-16 fiscal years.
Off of a question about Common Core education standards, Givens transitioned to the larger topic of state’s rights.
“Understand that the Common Core was initiated by states, and Kentucky was one of the leaders in developing the Common Core. What ended up happening is that the federal government co-opted it largely and said, ‘We’re going to start sending down grant monies if you chose to adopt the Common Core,’ which put the wrong spin on a lot of what was going on among the states that were collaborating on the Common Core itself,” Givens said.
“I don’t sense that it will be a great move for us to say we are going to vote to throw out all of work and all of the investment by our teachers and our administrators and taxpayers and move in a different direction, thus getting rid of Common Core,” Givens said. “I don’t think that’s good public policy.”
“I do think it’s good public policy to have a robust debate about it and say, ‘Do we need to move the needle a little here and there?’ but still building on the base that’s there.”
Givens insinuated his support for states to be able to make decisions about education within their borders, saying, “Let the 50 states be those 50 laboratories of innovation and let some choose to do it and let others not. Federal government, stay out of our business sometimes.”