Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, September 12, 2013, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Jimmy Higdon, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Jimmy Higdon, Co-Chair; Representative Tanya Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Perry B. Clark, Carroll Gibson, Christian McDaniel, Dennis Parrett, Albert Robinson, Kathy W. Stein, Whitney Westerfield, and Mike Wilson; Representatives, Regina Bunch, Tom Burch, Denver Butler, Dwight D. Butler, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Ron Crimm, Myron Dossett, David Floyd, Kenny Imes, Jimmie Lee, Terry Mills, Tom Riner, Rita Smart, and Russell Webber.
Guests: Rodney Brewer, Commissioner, Kentucky State Police; COL (Ret.) Tim Hazlette, President, Kentucky State Police Professional Association; Ken Lucas, Commissioner, Margaret Plattner, Deputy Commissioner, Dennis Shepherd, Legal Counsel, and Dean Carver, Regional Administrator, Field Operations, Kentucky Department of Veterans, Affairs; and Billy Young, Director of EMS Education and Licensure, Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services.
Representative Floyd moved to adopt the July 11, 2013, meeting minutes. Representative Combs seconded the motion, and the minutes were adopted.
KSP Force Reduction Due to Budget Shortfall
Commissioner Rodney Brewer gave an overview of the KSP budget reductions and expenditures for 2012 and how they have affected 2013. Commissioner Brewer stated that 22 staff had been laid off due to budget cuts and a $4 million dollar debt that KSP was unable to pay during the fiscal year. Holding back pay until July 1, 2013, helped because 2013 funds could be applied; however, it set the tone for 2013 by starting in the hole. With the $4 million dollars taken from the 2013 budget and given to the 2012 year alone with one more payroll in 2013 than 2012 at the cost of an additional $6 million, KSP had a starting debt of $10 million.
KSP looked at all programs and all available funds and was able to trim the debt to nearly $8 million. The projection for 2014 is a $5.8 million shortfall. KSP is planning reductions to include the Trooper R Program at a savings of $1.25 million, less administrative help (as seasonal work) from $450,000 to $200,000, use of $1 million of asset monies from drug seizures to offset new cruisers with a $3.5 million price tag, and moving $2.5 million out of Juvenile Justice. Salaries have decreased $11.5 million in the past five years. However, veteran officers are retiring, and training for new cadets is a considerable cost. The agency’s sick leave payout is about $1.25 million a year. In 2014, KSP will seek an additional $3 million in retirement contributions. Additional budget pressure comes from increased healthcare costs, needed technology updates, up to a 40 percent decline in federal money, fewer officers driving more miles, and replacing 125 vehicles for which there has been no separate line item for 8 years. The fleet mileage is through the roof. Over half of the cars have over 150,000 miles, and old vehicles need more maintenance. The fuel bill for next year is projected to be $7 million and therefore is at the smallest strength level despite having a cadet class each year. Due to retirement and unfilled vacancies, there is a loss of 66 sworn troopers.
In response to a question from Co-Chair Higdon, Commissioner Brewer stated that the loss of 66 officers has caused KSP to rely upon local agencies to respond, instead of KSP, for some crashes and other calls.
In response to a question from Representative Floyd, Commissioner Brewer stated that the reason for a large number of retired troopers is due to a wave of veteran officers needing to get the best of their top five years due to the economy. The lack of salary or cost of living increases has not provided an incentive to stay.
In response to a question from Representative Couch, Commissioner Brewer stated that since motor vehicle enforcement merged with KSP, it is still fully funded through Transportation money; it has eliminated several positions and saved the state $2.2 million in federal money and has increased the assets for transportation.
In response to a question from Representative Bunch, Commissioner Brewer stated that there have been 20 contract employees laid off from the Trooper R program.
Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs: Benefit Field Representative Operations and “I Support Veterans” License Plates
Ken Lucas, Commissioner, Margaret Plattner, Deputy Commissioner, and Dean Carver, Regional Administrator, Field Operations Division, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Benefit Field Representative Operations and “I Support Veterans” license plates.
Mr. Carver discussed the KDVA field operations for 2012. Constituent correspondence assistance averages 50 cases per month. KDVA Field Representatives average five in home visits per month, and Regional Administrators conduct approximately 8-10 hearings quarterly.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs FY12 expenditures in Kentucky include vocational rehabilitation, educational assistance, unemployment compensation, disability compensation, death and disability pensions, life insurance, physical and mental healthcare, nursing home care, and burial honors and benefits. These expenditures total $1.9 billion.
Mr. Carver explained the “D2D” claims process which is the name of a VA program that takes claims from many claims management systems and provides a uniform/consistent way to submit them to the VA. It is critical to serving our veterans as two-thirds of the VA’s customers have their own claims management systems, and it will help the VA accelerate the speed by which claims are filed, resulting in quicker rating decisions for veterans. Mr. Carver described the D2D claims processing as similar to Turbo Tax where the Internal Revenue Service published the specifications for submission of electronic tax returns and they let the private sector development tax submission.
KDVA is committed to lessening the backlog of claims within the state and are working with the VA Regional office to submit fully developed claims which will lessen the time a veteran waits to receive his or her much needed compensation. Currently over 70 percent of all claims submitted are fully developed. KDVA’s goal is to have 90 percent fully developed claims in 2013.
Commissioner Lucas stated that the I Support Veterans License Plates program has generated $52,966.27 in revenue with a total of 4,904 plates sold at this point.
Military Training Credit for Emergency Medical Services Licensing
Bill Young, Director of EMS Education Advisor, Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services, gave a PowerPoint presentation on how the EMS was recognizing military credit towards licensure.
Mr. Young discussed the history of the military medic and the current medic to EMS provider process in Kentucky.
In response to a question from Co-Chair Pullin, Mr. Young stated that all medics are certified at the basic level of licensure while in the military, however, some medics are practically trained like surgeons or at the highest level of expertise in the military and are returning home to being certified at only a basic level. He stated that they are getting ready to review the paramedic regulations and hope to adjust the skill sets and standards for licensure for multiple levels of medics by the end of this year.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.