There were a lot of firsts at the Legislative Breakfast Series sponsored by the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce Saturday morning at the Community Schools of Frankfort Administration Building.
First of all, it was the first breakfast of the year that this year will run into April.
Second, it was announced that there will be only three legislators attending breakfast this year due to the state’s redistricting. Usually, there are four state legislators who attend these breakfasts.
Third, it was the first go-around for Frankfort native Mark Genda, who was at the front table with State Senator Brian Buchanan of Lebanon.
“I’m just going to flat say this. It feels good to be home,” said Genda.”I walked in here today and I see the faces of the people that I know and love who put me in this position. It just feels good to be home. So, thank you for showing up.”
So, how are things going for the “newbie” from Frankfort.
“They’re still calling me a freshman down there and I don’t have a problem with that,” said Genda. “My job down there is that I have been trying to learn something new (every day).”
It’s going to be an active session for both of them as they will discuss issues dealing with education, healthcare, data processing issues and taxes. Also, legislators are going to pass a new budget. The last one was passed in 2021.
“The last time we passed the budget, it just under $38 million,” said Buchanan. “This year, I know it’s going to a little higher at around $40 to $41 million budget.”
Buchanan talked about some facts that people may or may not know about when it comes to doing the budget.
“About half the money in the state budget goes to K -12 education to support public schools,” said Buchanan. “About 15 percent goes to higher education. So, about 65 percent gets table right off the table before we even start.
Buchanan added that healthcare, including mental health, is the second highest thing they spend money on.
Another thing up for discussion will be taxes — both individual and state — with there being talk on should they do away with state income taxes. Buchanan said a question he has if that happens is what will replace it. He added those taxes bring in about $8 million per year.
One of Genda’s main concerns is to go through all the bills that pass his desk. One subject matter is workforce development.
“I was at three places in 30 minutes and each place said ‘where are the workers?'”, said Genda. “And they were completely diverse businesses. They weren’t just like the same one. I wasn’t just going to restaurants that day or anything like that where we know there’s a shortage.”
Genda added this is something that is going to have looked at in a different way from the past.