Special session to deal with state’s underfunded pension system coming in October, speaker says

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By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

Lawmakers will take a long look at the public pension systems in October during a special session, House Speaker Jeff Hoover said Thursday.

Hoover addressed reporters prior to the 54th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair.

The Public Pension Oversight Board will take recommendations on pension reform prior to a meeting next Tuesday with all House members in closed session at the Capitol, Hoover said.

Speaker Jeff Hoover, shown here with Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, says a special session will take place in October to discuss the troubled pension system (LRC Public Information Photo)

Only the governor can call for the special session and it comes at a cost of about $60,000 per day.

State Budget Director John Chilton said the pension funding is at a crisis level.

“It’s $35 billion underfunded, based on assumptions made at the end of the 2016 fiscal year. Using very conservative assumptions, the underfunding might be as large as $82 billion,” Chilton said last month.

In a statement last month, Bevin talked about fixing “the broken pension systems.”

“This year’s budget shortfall validates the need for conservative spending plans and it dramatically underscores the critical need for fixing Kentucky’s broken pension systems and modernizing the state’s tax code,” he said. “A solid financial foundation is essential before the commonwealth can reach its full potential.”

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, called the outlook ugly.

“We’re really on a road you might say we’re sharing with Detroit and Puerto Rico. That’s something all of us legislators need to really understand,” he said. “This is a major fiscal crisis that we are facing in this Commonwealth. We need to work in collaboration with our governor.”

That could mean tax increases which are never popular positions for elected officials. But Wayne said something must be done immediately.

“And if that means putting my re-election on the table so I can save this Commonwealth, I’m going to do that, because that’s more important,” he said. “The good of our people is more important than any seat I might occupy in the House or Senate.”

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