A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

2018 legislature: Big winners — children in foster care, crime victims; the rest — losers and questions

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The 2018 General Assembly is now history and while there are some obvious winners and losers, there are two other categories to consider: “both” or “too soon to tell.” Children in foster care, or awaiting adoption, is one area that is an obvious winner. A bipartisan working group named on the final day of the 2017 session by then-Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown,...

Budget agreement includes cuts, full pension contributions and some new revenue

By Ashley Spalding Kentucky Center for Economic Policy The state budget passed Monday by the General Assembly for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 is very similar to the House’s budget proposal. Like the House proposal, the budget agreement – and accompanying revenue bill – includes substantial cuts in many areas but also raises a small amount of revenue and relies heavily on fund transfers in order...

Bill Straub: A billion here, a billion there adds up, but even KY House tax plan doesn’t go far enough

Legend has it that Winston Churchill, trying to draw the United States into WWII, famously said you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else. Apparently old Winnie, in his travels, never made it to the Bluegrass where, having tried ad infinitum to escape that which needs to be done, continues on its merry way ignoring its responsibilities and...

The week in Frankfort: Deadline passed for new bills; House passes budget, pensions; and more

The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2018 session passed a couple big milestones this week as the deadline to introduce new bills arrived in the House on Tuesday and in the Senate on Thursday.   Capitol observers now have a complete view of the subjects that will be considered this year on major issues like education, taxes, and health care as well as on lesser-known matters like shark fins, nail salons,...

Legislators convene Tuesday to face pensions, budgets, adoption, Marsy’s Law and more

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky lawmakers have a full plate of issues to address when they return to Frankfort to convene the 2018 regular session on Tuesday.   At the top of the list is reforming the state’s eight public pension systems, which have a total unfunded liability of between $33 billion and $84 billion, depending on whose figures you use.  Gov. Matt Bevin, accompanied by legislative...

Jeff Rubin: As the bumper sticker says – if you can read this, thank a teacher; they believed. . .

If you can read this, thank a teacher. I saw that bumper sticker on the back of a car I was following on the highway the other day. The sticker brought a smile to my face. More than that, it made me think about the important role teachers have played in my own life growing up. A role that could just as easily be applied to anyone of us, including our children and grandchildren. Throughout my formative...

Bevin administration releases data showing Kentucky teachers wealthier under “Keeping the Promise” plan

The Bevin administration on Monday released data showing new teachers enrolling in the defined contribution retirement plan, a 401(a) plan, can be wealthier at retirement than if they began in the defined benefits plan currently in law. The estimate shows that a new teacher starting at age 24 and working until age 61 will start retirement with $1.59 million. If reinvested, this could translate into...

Kentucky’s Retired Teachers Association launches grassroots campaign to protect financial security

The Kentucky Retired Teachers Association (KRTA) has launched a statewide grassroots campaign to protect the earned retirement security of thousands of retirees who served a career educating children. The campaign will advocate for fairness and fight political leaders in Frankfort who support forcing retired teachers to bail out elected officials’ mismanagement of Kentucky’s teacher retirement...

Jason Bailey: Proposed 401ks cost more than Kentucky’s existing defined benefit pension plans

The 401k-type defined contribution (DC) plans proposed by PFM in their final report would cost more than Kentucky’s existing defined benefit (DB) plans, according to data from PFM itself and the systems’ actuaries. Under a switch, the state would pay more for a plan that reduces the retirement security of its workers. PFM’s proposed DC plan would require employees to make a minimum three percent...

Local governments facing major increases in pension contributions unless Legislature acts, Chilton says

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Local governments in Kentucky would pay 50 to 60 percent more next year to fund pensions for workers, unless the General Assembly acts, according to an email to local officials from State Budget Director John Chilton. Without changes by lawmakers to the state’s wobbly pension system, local governments will have to make payments into the County Employees Retirement System...

Jason Bailey: Legislative session on pensions without new revenue won’t fix the problem

By Jason Bailey Special to KyForward In January, Gov. Bevin announced he would call a special session this year on pensions and tax reform. At the time, he said the issues must go together and rightly asserted tax changes could not be “revenue neutral” — meaning they must generate new dollars to meet our ongoing obligations. In recent interviews, however, the governor has seemingly backed away...

House members go behind closed doors to discuss controversial public pension proposal

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky House members got their first look at the consultant’s report on reforming Kentucky’s troubled public pension plan during a two-hour, closed-door meeting in Frankfort on Tuesday. A report by PFM Group Consulting suggested moving new state government hires to a 401-K type retirement, putting new teachers on the Social Security system, and making those on hazardous...

Poll finds support among Kentuckians for pensions; 86 percent say all workers should have access

Eighty-six percent of Kentuckians say that all workers, not just those in the public sector, should have a pension plan according to new polling results released last week by the National Institute on Retirement Security. These findings are consistent with national polling conducted earlier this year by NIRS that found 86 percent of Americans say all workers should have access to a pension plan. The...

Commentary: Four additional concerns regarding Kentucky’s fiscal outlook in coming years

By Pam Thomas Special to KyForward The fact Kentucky has a severely underfunded pension system and that Gov. Matt Bevin plans to call a special session on the issue has been widely publicized. So has the round after round of state budget cuts in recent years. On top of those challenges are added fiscal problems, made even clearer recently, that present a daunting picture for the Commonwealth in 2018...