Joe Bowen

Bill to Reduce State Debt Goes to the Full Kentucky Senate for a Third Time

Feb 20, 2015
Kentucky LRC

Legislation aimed at reducing Kentucky's debt is headed to the Senate floor. The measure seeks to lower overall debt over time. 

The bill limits general fund supported debt to 6 percent of general fund revenues. Sponsor Joe Bowen told budget committee members the state's current debt ratio is at 8.1 percent, including the state's participation in county courthouse construction borrowing. 

The Owensboro Republican used a well-known historical figure to further his argument.

"John Adams, one of our founding fathers said that there are only two ways to conquer and divide a nation," said Bowen. "One is by the sword and the other is by debt."

Daviess County Lawmaker Wants to Cap Kentucky's Debt

Feb 15, 2013
Kentucky LRC

Legislation to bar state General Fund debt from exceeding 6% has been approved by the full Senate. Republican Senator Joe Bowen of Owensboro has been pushing the measure since last year when a similar measure passed the Senate but died in the House.

Bowen said Kentucky now has $6.3 billion in debt and that, he says, translates to $14,589 in debt for every man, woman and child in Kentucky.

Bowen said lawmakers need to do the right thing by putting a limit on the legislature's credit card. The bill now goes to the House where it faces a shaky future.

Legislation introduced in both the Kentucky House and Senate is designed to help keep aluminum smelter jobs in the northwestern Kentucky region of Daviess, Henderson, Hancock, and Webster counties.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports Sen. Joe Bowen and Rep. Tommy Thompson, both of Daviess County, have introduced identical bills in their respective chambers. Bowen told the newspaper the legislation is aimed at allowing Century Aluminum in Hawesville to buy electricity on the open wholesale electricity market.

That is currently not allowed under state law.

Last summer, Century, which employs 700 workers, announced it would shutter its smelter unless either the price of metal went up or its electric rates dropped. The smelter terminated its contract with Henderson-based Big Rivers Electric Corp. Before that, Century was Big Rivers largest customer.

Kentucky LRC

An effort to reform Kentucky's underfunded pension systems passed in its first hearing Wednesday from a state Senate committee meeting.

Senate Bill 2 stems from the recommendations of a legislative task force  that met over the summer to try and solve the pension problems.

It includes a suspension of cost of living adjustments and creates a new hybrid plan that acts like a 401-K with a promised rate of return.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, the bill sponsor, said the need for pension reform isn't a partisan one.