Amid a $91 million state revenue shortfall, the Kentucky legislature’s Government Contract Review Committee approved $1.3 billion worth of contracts this month. Outgoing Republican Sen. Sara Beth Gregory is a co-chair of the committee. She says the high dollar figure comes at the beginning of a new fiscal year, when large numbers of contracts are typically renewed -- about 1,700 contracts in July alone.
But Gregory says that there are still contracts that creep into the committee that warrant more scrutiny from the public and the media.
“It is somewhat surprising how much is overseen by this committee and how much comes before this committee or has the potential to come before this committee with relatively little press coverage,” said Gregory.
Gregory says the committee’s decisions can be overruled by the secretary of the finance cabinet, and that the best they can do is try to draw attention to contracts that award more money than they should.
The Legislative Ethics Commission reports that despite a reduction in contracts for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the amount swelled to $3.4 billion from 2007 to 2011.
The challenger in Kentucky’s 16th Senate GOP primary defeated the incumbent in Tuesday’s election.
Max Wise of Campbellsville defeated Senator Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello, with Wise take 54 percent of the vote to Gregory's 46 percent. The 38-year-old Wise teaches political science at Campbellsville University, and faces no Democratic opponent in the November general election.
Gregory has served in the Senate since 2012 when she won a special election to fill the seat left vacant by then-Senate President David Williams, who took a judgeship.
The 16th Senate District covers Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell, Taylor, and Wayne Counties.
More than one hundred legislative races will be on the ballot this year in Kentucky, and for some, contenders must first get through a primary.
Among those is the 16th state Senate District, featuring incumbent Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello and political newcomer Max Wise of Campbellsville.
Gregory is an attorney who spent one term in the House before winning a special election to the Senate in 2012. She tells WKU Public Radio that being in both the majority and minority was beneficial.
"I definitely think it gives you more experience and a better perspective having served in both chambers and having relationships with people in both chambers is a helpful thing," says Gregory.
Looking back on the past session, Gregory says her greatest accomplishment was getting a bill passed that sets up an adult protection registry where prospective employers can see if job applicants have a history of abuse.
If re-elected, she wants to work toward increasing the state’s investment in education.
"That's something I want to continue to see us doing going forward. Investing in education will move our state forward by making it a better place to live, but also from a job creation standpoint, because it's critical to have an educated workforce," Gregory remarks.
A bill that would permit private corporations to partner with government to finance infrastructure projects is one step closer to becoming law.
Filed by Rep. Leslie Combs, House Bill 407 passed the Senate by a 27-9 vote, and would allow local governments to partner with businesses to fund infrastructure projects.
Dissenting members worried that the legislation would afford private companies too much influence on public projects, and expressed concern over accountability of the process.
Sen. Perry Clark cited a Brookings Institute study that says public private partnerships, or “P3’s,” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
“They have over a two-thirds failure rate," the Louisville Democrat said. "Of the construction roads, they looked at 11 of them that were completed, seven of those ended in bankruptcy, and several of them ended in foreclosure. Oftentimes it was at great cost to the taxpayers that had to foot the difference.”
A special election will be held in southern Kentucky next month to fill the unexpired House term of Sara Beth Gregory who was elected to the state Senate last month.
Governor Beshear set the election for February 12th for the 52nd House District which includes Wayne and McCreary counties and part of Pulaski County. Gregory won a special election to serve the remainder of former Senate President David Williams' term after Williams resigned to accept a circuit judge appointment by the governor.
The House seat left vacant by Gregory, a Monticello Republican, runs through the end of this year. Party officials will choose nominees for the seat.
Republican state Rep. Sara Beth Gregory has won a special election for a Senate seat from southern Kentucky, defeating Williamsburg teacher and Democrat Bill Conn by more than a 4-1 margin to replace former Sen. David Williams.
In unofficial returns from Tuesday's balloting, Gregory received 6,244 votes to 1,440 for Conn, who was making his first run for public office.
The heavily Republican 16th District includes Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties, along the southern Kentucky border. Gregory, an attorney, was elected last year to represent the 52nd House District that covers McCreary and Wayne counties and part of Pulaski County and won a second term on Nov. 6.
Democrats and Republicans have nominated candidates to run for an open Senate seat in southern Kentucky. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that officials from each political party had separate meetings on Thursday and approved the nominations of Republican state Rep. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello and Democrat Bill Conn, a teacher in Williamsburg who is making his first run for public office.
Gov. Steve Beshear has scheduled an election for Dec. 18 to replace former state Sen. David Williams in southern Kentucky's 16th District. Two potential candidates have already announced they will seek the Republican nomination for the seat left vacant when Williams accepted an appointment to become a circuit judge.