A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Dennis Keene: Governor, Republican leaders should move slowly and cautiously with pension reform

It is becoming more and more apparent that a special session will be called by Governor Matt Bevin later this fall to deal with pension reform. Although we have a nearly four-month regular session of the General Assembly coming up in January, the Governor is determined to spend upwards of $65,000 per day to convene the legislature on state pensions.

Will history repeat itself with another round of rushed legislation that is not thoroughly vetted through the committee and legislatives processes? Charter school legislation was passed quickly without bipartisan support in January and we have no data or results yet to determine the impact it will have upon public school budgets.

For the past several months I have been listening to state employees, teachers and retirees and they are deeply concerned. Thousands of state employees and teachers have requested retirement paperwork, beyond what would normally be expected. Our state government departments and schools are insufficiently prepared to handle the onslaught of new retirees next year and it will overburden an already stressed retirement system.

In 2013 major changes and improvements to the pension systems were put in place through bipartisan legislation. We are only just beginning to see the positive results of those changes. The teachers’ pension system is improving and with proper oversight and transparency, the state workers’ pension program will also recognize gains.

Both Republicans and Democrats have pre-filed legislation to provide designated revenue streams that will deal with the pension shortfall. We should give the pension system legislation careful review and debate before making drastic changes that will have a negative effect on people’s lives and the economy.

I urge Governor Bevin and the Republican leaders of the House and Senate to move forward slowly and with caution before making a mistake with the future of Kentucky’s employees and retirees.

Dennis Keene represents Kentucky’s 67th district, Including Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Silver Grove, Melbourne, Highland Heights, Southgate, and Wilder in Campbell County. He is Kentucky’s Democratic House Caucus Chairman. For more information, visit www.DennisKeene.com

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