Despite a short legislative session that’s expected to focus on pension reforms, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says lawmakers may consider some key education measures, too.
“I think you’re going to see a number of possible bills coming out following up from the Newtown incident.”
Holliday says lawmakers may also be interested in increasing funding for Kentucky’s Center for School Safety, which saw dramatic cuts to its budget in 2009.
He also expects the General Assembly to take up legislation that would allow the education department to move forward with reforming its teacher evaluation system. The new system would likely measure teacher performance based partly on student test scores, which has been controversial among some in education.
As of the end of November, Kentucky had added 35,000 new jobs in 2012. Companies operating in Kentucky are cautiously hiring more workers as the state comes out of the recession.
Kentucky’s unemployment rate this year dropped below nine percent for the first time in three years. Office of Employment and Training economist Manoj Shanker says many industries, including the manufacturing sector, are hiring employees on temporary contracts.
“They’re not sure how real and how strong the recovery is," explains Shanker. "In the case of Toyota, for example, they sell to our domestic market, but they also sell to South Korea and Canada. So they have to look to see what the market is like out there. Are they going to be hit by what’s happening in east Asia and Europe?”
A state lawmaker would like to see Kentucky's regional universities "fast track" their degree programs to save students money and get them into the labor force more quickly. Republican Senator Jared Carpenter of Berea says students are piling up debt and taking some courses that really aren't necessary.