The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, December 2, 2004, at 1:00 PM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Mike Weaver, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Dan Seum, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, Joey Pendleton, Katie Stine, Elizabeth Tori, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Sheldon Baugh, Carolyn Belcher, Tom Burch, Bill Farmer, Mary Harper, Fred Nesler, Tanya Pullin, Steve Riggs, Tom Riner, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, and Jim Thompson.
Guests: Randy McLamy, Terry Thompson, Mike Glenn, Robert Tipton, and Wil King.
LRC Staff: Scott Varland, Clint Newman, Amy Hauser, Clay Barkley, and Wanda Riley.
Co-Chair Weaver asked staff to read two Resolutions honoring Lance Corporal Sean M. Langley and Sergeant Christopher T. Heflin who were killed while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Co-Chair Weaver asked for a motion on the Resolution honoring Lance Corporal Sean M. Langley. Senator Westwood made a motion to adopt the Resolution. Representative Belcher seconded the motion. The motion passed. Representative Farmer made a motion to adopt the Resolution honoring Sergeant Christopher T. Heflin. Representative Baugh seconded the motion. The motion passed.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Representative Siler to lead the Committee in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Co-Chair Weaver asked for a motion and a second on the minutes from the November 4th meeting. Representative Belcher made a motion to adopt the minutes. Representative Farmer seconded the motion. The motion passed. The minutes were adopted as submitted.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Mike Inman, Commissioner, Commonwealth Office of Technology, to present the annual Wireless Interoperability Report.
Mr. Inman gave the Committee a brief overview of the changes that were made to the Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) during its reorganization. The former name of the Office was the Governor's Office for Technology. The COT moved from the Governor's Office to the Finance and Administration Cabinet. That move places the COT in a better position to execute the statutes in all areas of technology, including wireless interoperability. Internal changes made to COT include taking the Office of Administrative Services and the Office of Human Resources and placing them with the Finance and Administration Cabinet. All of the information technology responsibilities for the Finance Cabinet and the former Revenue Cabinet have now transferred to the COT, significantly increasing COT's information technology responsibilities.
Mr. Inman outlined key events in Kentucky regarding wireless interoperability. He said that in May 2001 a multi-agency wireless steering committee was created to provide overall direction for wireless strategy in Kentucky. The strategic plan that was produced set the groundwork for looking at wireless interoperability from an enterprise perspective. In December 2002, the Public Safety Wireless Network Conference was held in Lexington. It was the first event that led to an open discussion on how agencies involved in public safety can effectively achieve interoperability as it relates to communications. The conference brought recognition of the need for more local participation in state efforts and of the need for more awareness and understanding of the challenges we face. This conference led directly to House Bill 309 that was passed in 2003. House Bill 309 created the Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Executive Committee (KWIEC). The major impact of House Bill 309 has been to bring together all the stakeholders within the Commonwealth's public safety community. Establishment of KWIEC has been the single most important development in wireless interoperability in the Commonwealth. A primary result of House Bill 309 has been a growing participation and involvement by local government in our statewide wireless interoperability program. There are now 21 KWIEC members from various organizations, including representatives from state, county, and local government. KWIEC is the first statewide body on interoperability that includes all of the stakeholders.
Mr. Inman said that passage of House Bill 226 in the 2004 Session strengthened KWIEC. House Bill 226 directs KWIEC to establish the standards for interoperability. The bill requires all state agencies in the Commonwealth installing or upgrading primary public safety communications systems to present all plans to KWIEC for review and recommendation. The Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) has the power to give final approval or disapproval. House Bill 226 also requires local agencies to follow a similar path with the difference that COT lacks the power to give final approval or disapproval.
Mr. Inman said that the Kentucky Emergency Warning System (KEWS) is in desperate need of an upgrade. The KEWS system consist of 144 towers located at strategic locations around the Commonwealth. The system was installed over 30 years ago and is based on an analog technology. It cannot pass modern data and voice communications. The towers are used for a variety of applications including the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, and the Kentucky Parks Department communications. The towers are also used as a transmission means for portions of the Kentucky Educational Television Network. The system is in great need of an upgrade which would produce enormous benefits. The KEWS plan that was presented to the General Assembly last year would take the network from an analog network to a digital network. The upgrade was scheduled to be completed in three years. The plan was not passed due to budget constraints. Without funding for the plan, other creative solutions were looked at including receiving responses on RIF to determine if there is a way to use commercial support to upgrade the KEWS system. A committee has been formed to evaluate the responses.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Keith Hall, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, to present his Office's portion of the annual report.
Mr. Hall said that U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, called Kentucky's Office of Homeland Security a model for the nation. One area that the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security has focused on is its efforts in statewide interoperability communications, both data and voice. While communications among many first responders has improved in Kentucky, there is still a great deal to do to ensure complete interoperability statewide. The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security has worked aggressively with the COT, KWIEC, and the U. S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan with standards that will allow implementation of a truly interoperable statewide communications solution.
Mr. Hall introduced Joel Schrader, Deputy Director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and asked him to present the findings of a survey he conducted on statewide interoperability.
Mr. Schrader said that the survey showed that half of the respondents stated that local law enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, and fire departments could not communicate with each other on one radio channel or talk group. When asked how important it is for first responders to be able to communicate with other first responders within their own city or county, an overwhelming number of respondents said that it is extremely important. When asked if there is an operational concern with radio communications among first responders' agencies and state agencies, an overwhelming number of respondents said that it is critical that first responders be able to communicate with other agencies. When asked if they believed that the Commonwealth should develop a statewide mutual aid communications solution, a majority of respondents said that they strongly agree. When asked if the Commonwealth should develop a statewide mobile data communications solution, a majority responded that they strongly agree.
Mr. Schrader asked Mr. Hall to comment on the PowerPoint slide dealing with 2004 communications funding.
Mr. Hall said that 65 percent of the funding distributed by the competitive grant process, administered by the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, went to interoperable communications. Specifically, $6.7 million went to fund interoperable communications in a 42 county region in southeast Kentucky. $4.1 million were awarded to Louisville Metro. $2.8 million were awarded to Northern Kentucky. $1.6 million were awarded to Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, and $1 million were awarded to Richmond and Madison County.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Danny Ball, Public Safety Program Manager, Center for Rural Development, to present the Center's portion of the annual report.
Mr. Ball said that the Center for Rural Development kicked off the Law Enforcement Technology Project in 2001. This was an effort to increase communications across law enforcement agencies in the 42 counties in southern and eastern Kentucky. The project includes 109 agencies--both sheriffs' offices and local police departments. The project is focused mainly on data communications at present. Better data communications allows police officers in vehicles to be able to share data from laptop to laptop and back to headquarters. Another part of the program is to establish computer aided dispatch systems (CAD) to allow data information collection at the lowest level possible, from reporting citizens to the criminal justice system. This project is looked at as a rural communication model on the national level. The Center started the program as a phased implementation program. The first step was to provide technology to the police and sheriffs' departments, so that they could become familiar with computer and data technology. A lot of the agencies did not have that technology initially. This was an effort to get information off of paper and into a computerized type of business structure. Field laptops have been distributed to 80% of the law enforcement fleet in the 42 county area. Seven hundred and twenty vehicles now have ruggedized laptops with data modems in the vehicles and the ability to communicate over wireless. The Center participated with the Governor's Office for Technology, which is now the COT, in conducting pilot programs to confirm the functionality and the viability of this technology, especially in Eastern Kentucky where the terrain is challenging. If the technology worked in the mountain region, they were very confident it would work in the flatter terrain in Western Kentucky.
These Center for Rural Development pilot programs were very successful. The Center then took competitive bids and identified one vendor to provide for wireless data infrastructure across the 42 counties. It is estimated that it will take 72 towers to complete thorough coverage of the 42 counties, which represents approximately one third of the state. The data that officers collect in the field will be fed back into the computer aided dispatch systems to keep dispatchers informed. It will also be used to feed record management systems to collect data, develop crime trends, and help support business decisions for future staffing and scheduling.
The law enforcement technology project was first initiated for law enforcement only. The Center's next focus is working very closely with the Kentucky Office for Homeland Security and the COT to bring in other first responders such as fire departments, rescue agencies, Emergency Medical Services, and the U. S. Forestry Service. These entities will be major participants in any incident response occurrence. The next portion of the project is that the Center is researching emerging technologies for voice communications. The wireless network for data communications has been implemented. The next step is laying voice over IP across the network to test the feasibility and the viability of communicating by voice over a data network.
The Center will establish a Public Safety Planning Focus Group by January 30, 2005. This focus group will ensure that the efforts that the Center will be undertaking remain relevant with the people they represent.
Senator Pendleton commented that not enough money was going to counties such as Paducah, which has the Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Mr. Hall said that the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security is required to assess the Commonwealth's vulnerabilities. He said that his Office is in the process of conducting those assessments. The assessments will have an impact on funding from the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. Once the assessments are completed, more funds will be provided to vulnerable areas of the state, such as Paducah.
Co-Chair Seum asked Mr. Inman if KWIEC dictates who the vendor will be for equipment. Mr. Inman responded by saying that no one vendor would be recommended for purchases, but that KWIEC's goal is for standards to be set.
Co-Chair Seum asked Mr. Inman what control he had over money being stovepiped from the federal government to a community. Mr. Inman responded by saying that he had virtually no control over those funds, but that the federal government is using methods such as going through state homeland security offices to prevent those occurrences. Mr. Hall asked Co-Chair Seum if he could add his comments on this issue. Mr. Hall said that if the Kentucky Office for Homeland Security awards moneys for systems that are not truly interoperable, it will be very difficult to go to Washington with that information and receive more funding. Mr. Inman said that he would like to add to Mr. Hall's comments by saying that the intent of trying to go to a standard is that you are trying to get the vendor community to help solve this problem. If the focus is on the frequencies, protocols, and data transmission, instead of a brand, or particular vendor, it forces vendors to open up their systems to allow transmission among different systems. That is what the intent is of having a standard. Mr. Ball added his comments to this subject. He said that the Center for Rural Development is in the process of developing data exchange standards that will allow data communications across multiple vendor platforms. Contracts enforce the standards. Part of the contract agreement with the vendors is that they will agree to adhere to a certain standard that will allow for the exchange and the transmission of data, regardless of what their system or platform is. Co-Chair Seum commented that competition is needed to help keep the price down.
Representative Baugh asked Mr. Inman if he is speaking of a system that is satellite driven when he refers to wireless communications. Mr. Inman responded by saying that wireless communication includes different forms from radio transmission to data passing through a system. This is parallel to the cell phone system that is used for cell phones. Representative Baugh asked if there was a fail safe system for wireless communications. Mr. Inman responded by saying that there is no such thing as a fail safe system. Mr. Inman said that in using a satellite system there is less control over whether or not the system is up or down.
Senator Buford asked if the COT was coordinating efforts with the Kentucky Educational Television Network (KET) to help them upgrade their systems. Mr. Inman responded by saying that KET was very interested in the digital upgrade for the microwave system. Currently, KET can only use the microwave system itself, because they have a digital system. Mr. Hall said Kentucky is very fortunate to have the statewide network with KET. He said that KET is by far the most technically advanced network in the country. Mr. Hall said that the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security has not awarded funding to KET, and that KET has not requested funds. Senator Buford suggested that when new cell towers are approved for independent companies, the state can include in the approval certificate a stipulation that the state and KET have free access to the new towers. Mr. Inman said that one of the benefits of the digital upgrade is that there are $26 million in funding included to replace the terminal equipment for KET that goes over the microwave system. Mr. Hall said that there is no statutory authority at this time to require companies to allow the state free access to new towers during the certification process. He said that the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security would support such measures in concept.
Representative Riggs requested that Mr. Inman investigate and prosecute computer hackers who attempt to break into the state's computer system. He asked Mr. Inman if there was a policy in place at this time to investigate and prosecute hackers. Mr. Inman said that the primary focus is making sure hackers do not gain access to the system. Mr. Inman stated that the COT does not have the resources to investigate and prosecute those who attempt to break into the state's computer system. Mr. Inman said that was an issue for law enforcement, and that law enforcement agencies were contacted when hackers attempt to break into the system.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Inman if the statute that deals with wireless interoperability communications needs to be revised to mirror the procedure that the COT is now using to determine whether or not to award federal funds for wireless interoperability plans. Mr. Inman responded by saying that there may be an instance where a local government wants to spend its own money, and in that instance the local government would not subject itself to the jurisdiction of a state agency. Mr. Inman said that the only other drawback would be the fact that it is easier to change a policy in the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security than a standing statute. Those are the only two exceptions Mr. Inman had to Co-Chair Weaver's suggestion to change the statute.
Co-Chair Weaver pointed out that the funds obtained for wireless interoperable communications within the 42 county region in southeast Kentucky were stovepiped directly from the federal government to the Center for Rural Development to implement the pilot program. However, the Center for Rural Development has been cooperating with the Office of Homeland Security and KWIEC.
Co-Chair Weaver asked all those who were going to testify regarding the Department of Military Affairs audit to come forward.
Mr. John Cubine, Director of Financial Audit, Auditor of Public Accounts, introduced Dave Pitts, Manager, State Audit Branch, Financial Audit Division, Auditor of Public Accounts, and asked him to give an overview of the particular audit findings that the Committee inquired about.
Mr. Pitts said that the audit conducted by the Auditor of Public Accounts focused on the Department of Military Affairs compliance with federal grant requirements. This includes keeping track of funds awarded and whether or not a Department audit was required to be performed. Any subrecipient that received over $300,000 in federal grant money from the Department would be required to have an audit. The Department of Military Affairs then would monitor those audits. Mr. Pitts said that the Department would also have to document when they had received audits and any follow up to those audits. He said that the Auditor of Public Accounts audit showed that there was inadequate monitoring of all that activity. Mr. Pitts said that it was noted in the report that the Department had made improvements from the prior fiscal year, but that there was a lack of keeping track of where the money was going: 1) keeping track of the audits; 2) making sure the audits were turned over to the Department on time; and 3) ensuring that any corrective action was taken within nine months of the receipt of those audits. Several recommendations were proposed to address these issues, including that the Department: 1) develop and implement a system to monitor each of the counties and local governments for compliance with program requirements; 2) review financial or performance reports submitted to the Department by a subrecipient; 3) make periodic site visits to ensure there were no problems receiving or spending federal money; 4) ensure that subrecipients audit requirements are met; and 5) instruct subrecipient managers on addressing problems uncovered by audits. Mr. Pitts said that the Financial Audit Division is in the process of reviewing the Department of Military Affairs system for FY 2004.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Pitts if the audit he was reporting on was for FY 2003. Mr. Pitts said that was correct. Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Pitts if he was currently working on the audit for FY 2004. Mr. Pitts said that was correct.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Major General Donald Storm, Adjutant General, to respond to the Department of Military Affairs audit.
General Storm said that with his background in finance, he is fully aware of the very serious consequences concerning any weakness or failure of internal controls in an organization. He said that since being appointed Adjutant General he has been working to fix the findings identified in the audit report for the year ended June 30, 2003, and to strengthen and enhance the internal controls throughout the Department of Military Affairs. General Storm said that he has appointed Brigadier General (Ret.) Julius Berthold as the Executive Director of the Office of Management and Administration. General Berthold has extensive experience in business management at all levels and direct experience with federal regulatory requirements. General Storm said that General Berthold has served as the Director of Contracting for Fort Knox. He has held positions as Chief Financial Officer and Director of Contracts in private industry. General Berthold has also served as the Deputy Adjutant General of the Department of Military Affairs. As Executive Director of the Office of Management and Administration, he is well placed to ensure federal and state regulatory compliance throughout the Department. General Storm said that General Berthold has his complete support in implementing internal control policies and procedures. He said that General Berthold is a man of impeccable credentials and integrity. General Berthold's moral and value system is unsurpassed.
General Storm said that compliance with internal control policy and procedures has been included in the annual performance evaluation of all of his directors. He has also directed that the internal control policy be reviewed and reissued, and that annual briefings be given to compliance activity personnel. This will make executive, programmatic, and financial management at all levels fully aware of the positive internal control environment that has been established for ensuring compliance with federal and state requirements.
General Storm said that he and General Berthold are working on a reorganization plan which will better align the business and programmatic functions and the processes within the Department to allow for increased oversight and monitoring of internal control activities and corrective actions. It also involves the review and streamlining of business management functions and processes to include internal control as well as the complex and extensive programmatic responsibilities inherent in all federal grant programs.
General Storm outlined the actions taken to address the specific audit findings in the Auditor's report. First, to execute the Auditor's recommendation that the Department of Military Affairs implement procedures to ensure an accurate and complete Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards (SEFA Report), the Office of Management and Administration has been directed to develop the MARS Management and Accounting Reporting Database Report. This will automate the reporting of all federal expenditures and provide reasonable assurance that the SEFA Reports are based on accurate data as recorded in the state's accounting system.
Secondly, to execute the Auditor's recommendation that the Department of Military Affairs implement a system to properly monitor subrecipient activity, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management will use the SEFA 6 Subrecipient Report to identify all subrecipients expending $500,000 or more in federal awards. Also, subrecipients shall be notified in writing at the end of their accounting period to remind them of their requirement to have an audit performed and to furnish a copy of the audit report to the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) will log all subrecipient audit documents as they are received. KDEM will follow up on all audit documents not received. This database has been established.
The 14 Area Managers for Emergency Management will visit each subrecipient as appropriate to monitor the use of the federal funds provided and furnish a written report to management on their findings. Malcolm Franklin, Director, Division of Emergency Management, provided orientation instruction to all 14 Area Managers on October 7th. Additional training for Area Managers regarding database documentation, monitoring and reporting continues this month and will be ongoing until 100 percent efficiency is achieved.
The Division Director of Emergency Management shall receive the subrecipients audit report findings for adverse findings and issue a management decision on the findings within six months after receipt of the subrecipient audit report. Emergency Management Divisional Staff and Area Managers shall ensure that subrecipients take appropriate corrective action. Emergency Management Divisional Staff shall receive training on subrecipient monitoring. That training is ongoing with the Thompson Publishing Group through an audio conference that was held October 13, 2004.
The Office of Management and Administration shall oversee Emergency Management's implementation of General Storm's directives and institute additional internal controls as necessary to obtain assurance that identified weaknesses are corrected and steps taken to prevent weaknesses from reoccurring.
To implement the Auditor's recommendation that the Department of Military Affairs ensure that reports required by federal grantor agencies are submitted on a timely basis, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management has been directed to establish an automated calendar. The calendar will include all federal grant reporting dates entered for tracking suspense dates. A reporting log will be established log to record and track all reports and dates submitted.
In summary, General Storm thanked the State Auditor's Office for their professionalism and assistance in identifying these problems. General Storm gave the Committee his assurance that he is fully committed to correcting these and any other internal problems found in the Department of Military Affairs.
General Storm said that the 2004 audit is currently being conducted. Part of that audit and those results should reflect the new tactics, techniques, and procedures that have been put in place to address these issues.
Co-Chair Weaver asked John Cubine, Director, Division of Financial Audit, Auditor of Public Accounts, if he was satisfied with the steps taken by the Department of Military Affairs to address the issues detailed in the audit. Mr. Cubine responded by saying that he was satisfied with the plan that the Department of Military Affairs had proposed to address the issues.
Co-Chair Weaver asked General Storm if the Public Assistance Grants he spoke of earlier were for the Office of Emergency Management, the 14 area managers, and their sub areas. General Storm responded by saying that is correct.
General Storm gave the Committee an update on the Kentucky National Guard and the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs. General Storm said that there are five core functions within the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs: Kentucky Army and Air National Guard; Capital City Airport, Division of Air Transport; Emergency Management; the Youth Challenge Program; and the Bluegrass Station Division.
General Storm said that as of November 29, 2004, the Army had authorized 6,350 National Guard personnel. Currently, there are 6,329 soldiers assigned. The Army authorized 1,225 Air National Guard personnel. Currently, there are 1,176 Airmen assigned. In the past 11 months there has been a gain of 300 to 400 new soldiers and airmen.
General Storm said that since September 11, 2001, the Kentucky National Guard has participated in several operations. Sixty-five soldiers were mobilized and deployed to provide airport security at five airports. During Operation Noble Eagle, 1,691 soldiers and airmen were mobilized and deployed. During Operation Enduring Freedom, 1,108 soldiers and airmen were mobilized and deployed. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2,507 soldiers and airmen were mobilized and deployed. Three hundred fifty-five soldiers and airmen have been mobilized and deployed to Bosnia/Kosovo.
Current operations include 32 soldiers and airmen being mobilized and deployed locally: 26 in Bosnia; 91 in Kosovo; 148 in Air Guard Operations; 527 in Iraq; and 625 en route to Iraq for a total of 1,458, out of a 7,500 force.
General Storm said that two National Guard Units totaling 354 soldiers are stationed at mobilization stations and will be sent to Iraq in the near future. That brings the total Kentucky National Guard soldiers and airmen presently in Iraq to 1,506.
General Storm said that there has been a lot of talk about the strain on the Kentucky National Guard. The National Guard has a dual mission. When not responding to a national emergency, its mission is to respond to the needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The most soldiers and airmen that have ever been mobilized on any single day, on state active duty, is 1,662. On May 1, 2003, 2,892 soldiers were mobilized and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Therefore, in a worst case scenario, 4,554 soldiers and airmen would be mobilized and deployed. That would leave a total of 2,951 ready to respond to any additional emergency in the Commonwealth.
General Storm said that the strength of the Kentucky National Guard and Air National Guard is the success of recruiting efforts. He said that the Tuition Assistance Program has been critical in the recruiting of Kentuckian's to join the Guard. General Storm said that recruiting and participation is the number one priority.
The Department of Military Affairs has a budget in excess of $281 million for fiscal year 2004. The Army and Air National Guard contributes in excess of $194 million. The General Fund appropriation for the Department of Military Affairs is $10,572,000. Agency receipts generate approximately $19 million. $57 million have been executed in grants. Of the $281,357,100 budget, the state appropriates 3.8 percent of funds for the Department's budget. $270,784,400 or 89.5 percent of budget funds come from the federal government. 6.7 percent of the budget funds are agency generated. For every dollar given through the state general fund, the Department of Military Affairs generates $25.61 for the Kentucky economy. General Storm said that the greater amount of income being generated is based on the greater number of soldiers and airmen. They bring federal dollars into Kentucky.
General Storm said that the $10 million general fund appropriation first occurred in 1995. Today the 2005-2006 appropriation is $10,572,000. The Department of Military Affairs has struggled with a 12 year flat line General Fund appropriation while trying to generate federal dollars for Kentucky's economy.
General Storm said that the Facilities Maintenance Pool has struggled through a nine year decrease in purchasing power. In 1995, the Facilities Maintenance Pool appropriation was $900,000. Today through 2006 the appropriation is going to be $860,000. These funds are insufficient to maintain the 52 armory installations throughout the state. Forty-nine of the installations are state owned, two are state leased (Maysville & Morehead), and there is one federally owned installation (Fort Knox).
The Kentucky Military Affairs Facilities Division manages real property valued at $147 million. There is a $16.5 million total workorder backlog. Capital construction within the Major Maintenance Pool is $13,509,000 in 111 backlogged work orders. The operating budget is $3,000,000 in 1,533 backlogged work orders.
General Storm invited the Committee to meet at Bluegrass Station. He said that Bluegrass Station was a success story, because it generates income that is spent on the facilities. There are 1,754 employees at Bluegrass Station that generate $54 million in payroll coming into the state.
General Storm said having a state budget is critical. He said that the Department of Military Affairs competes for the work contracted at Bluegrass Station. Special Operations Command Support Activity brings projects in the millions of dollars to Bluegrass Station. General Storm said that a $10 million additional hangar project was approved for Bluegrass Station. However, those funds were not received due to the state not having a budget.
General Storm said that it is important that the Kentucky National Guard expand in Northern Kentucky. He said that land has been pledged for expansion. All that is needed at this time is the 25 percent state matching funds for the armory.
General Storm said that in 1996 the general fund appropriation for the Aviation Maintenance Pool was $203,000 to maintain five aircraft. The general fund appropriation for this year is $450,000 to maintain 10 aircraft. The fleet is aging. It has been operated on a shoestring.
Co-Chair Weaver commended General Storm on the recruiting and retention efforts of the Kentucky National Guard. General Storm said that tuition assistance for soldiers and airmen is very important in recruiting and retention, but the willingness of members to serve something greater than themselves keeps the Kentucky National Guard and Air National Guard strong.
General Storm said that it is very important that everyone who joins the National Guard understands that during their six year tenure they will definitely deploy somewhere in service to our country.
General Storm said that the over the past five years, the average age of members has been lowered 10 to 15 years. He said that the Kentucky National Guard is recruiting the best and brightest in Kentucky. General Storm said that the Kentucky National Guard is on the cutting edge.
Co-Chair Weaver told General Storm that Committee staff had researched what other states are doing for their national guard and reserve components. He said that staff was compiling a packet containing that information. That information will be forwarded to General Storm early next year. Co-Chair Weaver encouraged General Storm to appear before the Committee and request things the Kentucky National Guard needs in 2006 to assist with recruiting and retention rates.
General Storm thanked the Committee for its past and present support.
Representative Baugh asked General Storm if he had a backlog of soldiers who were trying to join the Kentucky National Guard. General Storm responded by saying that there was no backlog.
Representative Baugh asked General Storm if he knew of any schools in Kentucky that had refused to allow Kentucky National Guard recruiters into the schools. General Storm responded by saying that there are some schools that deny recruiters access to students. Co-Chair Weaver told General Storm that there is a Kentucky Revised Statute forbidding schools to refuse the military to recruit in schools. Co-Chair Weaver told General Storm that if he had a problem getting access to a school to let the Committee know.
Representative Baugh asked General Storm who establishes the authorized numbers for personnel strength. General Storm responded by saying that the National Guard Bureau base their decisions on Department of Defense funding.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Bert Sisk with the Special Advisory Commission on Senior Citizens to stay after the meeting and discuss with him the Commission's recently adopted recommendations.
Representative Belcher made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Representative Baugh seconded the motion. The motion carried. The meeting adjourned.