Sen. Chris Girdler Op-Ed: ‘Senator Damon Thayer is a Proven Leader Moving Kentucky in the Right Direction

As I look back on my time serving the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a state senator, very few of my colleagues have left as big an impact on the legislature like my friend and Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer. Senator Thayer deserves recognition for his fierce leadership in the Senate, his commitment to the constituents of the 17th Senatorial District, and his dedication to conservative values.

In just my first legislative session during the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly, Senator Thayer led the way in sponsoring legislation that brought reform to the financially troubled public employee pension system. As the bill’s primary sponsor, he worked diligently with both chambers to find compromise on Senate Bill 2, which ensured protection of Kentucky’s public employees’ retirement while saving taxpayers an estimated $10 billion over the next 20 years.

In the 2014 Session Senator Thayer was instrumental in the passage of a more fiscally responsible budget plan than the one originally proposed by former Democratic Governor Steve Beshear.  Thanks to the Senate Majority Caucus, the final budget borrowed less money and used less one-time revenues to pay recurring expenses than the proposals from the Governor and House Democrats. Our efforts provided for a lower debt service ratio and a lower structural imbalance.

Senator Thayer was also heavily involved in legislation passed in 2015 to combat the abuse of heroin in our state through the passage of Senate Bill 192. Additionally, he played a major role in passing the 2016 state budget bill, which brought another needed boost of funding to our state employee and teacher pension systems and is one of the most fiscally conservative budgets Kentucky has seen in a generation.

In particular, it was a joy to work with Senator Thayer on our joint effort to change the school calendar for the betterment of all Kentuckians.  With Senator Thayer’s leadership we were able to craft a compromise working hand in hand with the education, tourism, and business communities.

Our compromise provided a clear path for local decision making to occur, but it also provided incentives and greater flexibility for our school districts to be innovative and creative to better our educational attainment.  The compromise also took into consideration the detrimental impact early August school days are having on our business community throughout Kentucky.  I have no doubt that Senator Thayer will work diligently to overcome the misinformation on this legislation and we will see it signed into law in the near future.

Senator Thayer is not afraid to speak his mind nor does he worry about political correctness which has run amuck in our society today.  He is extremely passionate when fighting for important issues in Frankfort. He is pro-life, pro-coal, and pro-guns, which we both believe to be positions that reflect the values of the vast majority of Kentuckians.

Senator Thayer works hard to keep state government more accountable, more transparent, and more efficient. Through my time with him in the Senate, it is clear he wants government to get out of the way so that businesses in Kentucky can thrive. Several businesses in his home district are certainly thriving thanks to his diligence and dedication.

I would like to thank my friend Damon Thayer for everything he has done for me, for the Senate Majority Caucus, and for the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a whole. He is truly a great leader and his constituents should be proud to have a man of such integrity representing them in the State Capitol.