Frankfort, KY: Governor Ernie Fletcher’s progressive legislative agenda, including comprehensive reform of the tax code for the first time in decades, received overwhelming support from legislators of both chambers during the 2005 Kentucky General Assembly. 19 out of 24 of Governor Fletcher’s initiatives were passed this session, with an average of 98.5% affirmative votes on those initiatives.
“I set lofty goals at the outset – tax reform, health care reform, energy reform, cabinet reorganization, small business assistance,” said Governor Fletcher. “By presenting a sound public policy agenda and working with the General Assembly, we now have legislation to improve the lives of Kentuckians and move our state forward.”
The Governor’s JOBS for Kentucky tax modernization plan served as the basis for historic tax reform legislation passed by the General Assembly. “We proved the skeptics wrong by passing a comprehensive tax modernization bill with virtually unanimous support in both chambers,” Governor Fletcher said. “I said I would not flinch on this issue because tax modernization is essential to providing new jobs and opportunities. Our efforts this year were historic indeed.”
In addition to providing exemplary leadership on tax modernization and budget issues, Governor Fletcher successfully advocated several initiatives which promote access to quality health care. The Governor’s successful health care agenda included House Bill 278 (small business health package), Senate Bill 172 (school health & nutrition) and Senate Bill 24 (newborn screening accessibility extension). The Governor also helped achieve passage of Senate Bill 2 (e-health initiative).
Legislators also endorsed the Governor’s establishment of a comprehensive statewide energy policy. Crucial elements of the Governor’s energy agenda were adopted, including Senate Bill 40 (to create Office of Energy in Commerce Cabinet), Senate Bill 180 (provides incentives for remining efforts) and House Bill 225 (creates Natural Gas Transmission Authority). The Governor’s tax plan provides incentives for the development of clean-coal technology and a biodiesel tax credit, and the executive budget includes funding for energy research and development and miner training.
Governor Fletcher also continued his efforts to streamline state government by reorganizing cabinets, departments and agencies in the executive branch. Most of the reorganization bills were passed by both legislative chambers. The governor is currently reviewing those bills to ensure that each reorganized unit can achieve greater efficiency for Kentucky taxpayers.
Additionally, Governor Fletcher led legislative efforts to promote small business success in the Commonwealth and enhance the state’s economic engine. In addition to House Bill 278, the Governor achieved success on Senate Bill 156 (creates direct loan program for small businesses and Web database to promote intrastate sales), Senate Bill 86 (establishes better regulatory tools for self-insured worker’s compensation funds) and Senate Bill 109 (promotes minority-owned small businesses), as incorporated in Senate Bill 49.
Governor Fletcher’s early literacy initiative, which he unveiled as Read to Achieve during his gubernatorial campaign, was passed through Senate Bill 19.
Legislation spearheaded by Governor Fletcher and Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence and designed to drastically reduce the illegal production of methamphetamine (Senate Bill 63) was also passed by the General Assembly. Finally, House Bill 298, a bill backed by Governor Fletcher which will help prevent the maltreatment and abuse of elderly Kentuckians, was also approved.
“Our resolve on tax modernization and other important issues delivered for the people of Kentucky,” Governor Fletcher said. “I am proud of our accomplishments this year, and I look forward to more bipartisan accomplishments in 2006. By putting people above politics we can build a better Kentucky.”
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