A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Three measures introduced as Kentucky General Assembly special session convenes in Frankfort

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky General Assembly gaveled in Friday morning on day one of a special session to address changes to the pension plan affecting the state’s regional public universities and quasi-governmental agencies. Three measures were introduced in the House, given their first of the required three readings, and referred to the House State Government Committee that is expected...

Gov. Matt Bevin says he has votes to pass pension legislation, trying to find best time for special session

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Matt Bevin says he has the votes to pass a pension reform plan for Kentucky’s regional universities and other quasi-governmental agencies, but the summer vacation season has kept him from calling a special session. During a Wednesday appearance on WKCT Radio in Bowling Green, the governor said, “It is the responsibility of legislators, even part-time legislators,...

Despite governor’s changes to the legislation, lawmakers still lack votes for pension reform

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today It appears lawmakers still lack the number of votes needed to pass a bill to reform the pension system affecting the regional public universities and 118 quasi-governmental agencies. Gov. Matt Bevin, who has made four changes to his original proposal, has said he wants to call a special session to enact that legislation by July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year. Senate...

Bill Straub: Here come the judges — and, thank the Constitution, they have important role in democracy

WASHINGTON – Gov. Matt “Yosemite Sam’’ Bevin appears to have a bit of a problem with the U.S. Constitution, at least that part that establishes the judiciary as one of the three equal branches of government. St. Matt of New Hampshire, as we all know, doesn’t react well to being told no, something the courts, both state and federal, have been doing with some frequency of late. He has not,...

Bevin touts strength, growth, cites ‘Blueprint for Better KY’ in State of Commonwealth address

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today “The State of the Commonwealth is strong, very strong,” Gov. Matt Bevin said during his annual State of the Commonwealth address, delivered to a joint session of the General Assembly Thursday night. 
Bevin described progress from seven items from the “Blueprint for a Better Kentucky” he handed out during his first such address in 2016. 
The first point was enacting...

Retired Justice Daniel Venters: The Governor’s verbal attacks on the courts are wrong — and ‘fake news’

Governor Bevin responded to the Kentucky Supreme Court’s recent unanimous opinion on the 2018 pension reform bill by accusing all seven Justices of being politically-motivated “activist judges” who defied the Rule of Law in an “unprecedented power grab.” He said the Court’s opinion was “screwing Kentucky.” As the Supreme Court Justice who wrote that opinion, and as a Republican who...

Pension reform takes center stage as lawmakers prepare to roll up sleeves for legislative session

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today State lawmakers return to work Tuesday with a lot of their plate – foremost being pension reform – during the 30-day session. The Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously struck down public pension reform legislation passed by the 2018 General Assembly, saying lawmakers violated state law in the process used to approve the bill. General Assembly House Speaker Pro Tem Davis...

Gov. Matt Bevin: Legislators must address Kentucky’s pension crisis

When I ran for Governor in 2015, I launched a seven-point plan outlining my vision for moving Kentucky forward, entitled the “Blueprint For A Better Kentucky.” The plan was ambitious and unapologetic in its call to change government, grow our economy and enact policies that would modernize education, healthcare and our tax code. Above all, however, I noted that no matter what we accomplish in any...

Jason Bailey: It’s time for Kentucky to embrace a sensible approach to paying employee pensions

The long pension saga of the last year gave rise to the largest mobilization of Kentuckians to the Capitol the state has seen in decades. The unpopularity of proposals led lawmakers to try sneaking the final pension bill into sewage legislation, which the Franklin Circuit Court declared unconstitutional last week. The whole episode will mean a halt to more legislative attacks on pensions for the time...

More than a thousand teachers, public school employees rally at Capitol to make voices heard

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A cold, blustery day failed to keep well more than a thousand teachers and other public school employees from a rally on the front steps of the state Capitol on Wednesday. Most of the attendees were from eastern and northeastern Kentucky, where several school districts closed so teachers could rally to preserve their pensions and funding for education. Teachers from across...

Constance Alexander: It’s time to dial down the rhetoric and find a real pension reform solution

The most important job I ever had was teaching English and Social Studies in junior high school because every single day offered a long-term opportunity to make a difference in a young person’s life. Short-term, payback was less rosy. Daily challenges included dealing with administrivia, adolescent meltdowns, and parental ennui. Critics carped about summer vacations and seasonal holidays, insisting...

Long-awaited pension reform bill introduced in state Senate — without controversial provisions

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A long-awaited pension reform bill, filed Tuesday in the state Senate, will not force any current or future government workers into a 401(k)-style retirement plan. That proposal had sparked boisterous protests, especially from Kentucky’s teachers. Sen. Joe Bowen, sponsor of SB 1, files the measure with Chief Senate Clerk Donna Holiday as Senate President Robert Stivers...

Long-awaited pension reform legislation could be introduced as early as Wednesday, lawmakers say

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The wait may be over. The long-awaited public pension reform bill will be introduced Wednesday or Thursday, at the latest, lawmakers said. House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, R-Prospect, indicated legislation will begin in the Senate, as early as Wednesday. House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne said the much anticipated pension reform bill will be revealed Wednesday, starting...

Public employees, teachers rally at State Capitol in opposition to public pension reform plan

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Hundreds of public employees and teachers rallied at the State Capitol on Wednesday in opposition to the public pension reform plan revealed by Gov. Matt Bevin and Republican legislative leaders late last month.   Chanting “Find Funding First!” and “We Are Kentucky!”, the crowd braved chilly temperatures and intermittent drizzle to protest the plan. 
Mickey McCoy...

Commentary: Major education association leaders respond to latest state pension reform proposals

Casey Allen, Bo Matthews, David Webster, Stephanie Winkler and Cherie Dimar Special to KyForward Providing the best learning opportunities we can to each and every child is among the most important functions of our state government. In fact, this is among the only constitutional requirements of our General Assembly. As representatives of educators, local school leaders and parents, we believe it is...

Jim Hill: It’s time for Kentucky to stop the insanity surrounding pension reform, provide peace of mind

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. Instead of reimagining our state’s failing pension system through a structural overhaul, some interest groups want little or no changes to the way our system has been operating. That is a recipe for failure considering our $64+ billion in unfunded pension liabilities and the exponential...

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...

Dave Adkisson: It isn’t a question of being ‘for’ or ‘against’ pension reform, it’s a need for action — now

Everyone has an opinion on pension reform. The Kentucky Chamber has long advocated for serious pension reform—publishing reports, writing newspaper columns, urging legislative action, even putting our message on billboards. We have been sounding the alarm for years. And now it appears that Kentucky is getting close to taking meaningful action to address the pension crisis that threatens the economic...

Legislative leaders say roll back of cost of living adjustments unlikely to be part of pension proposal

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The leaders in the General Assembly said it is not likely that lawmakers will take away cost-of-living adjustment previously given to retirees as part of the overhaul of the Kentucky pension system for public workers. Eliminating the cost-of-living adjustments that state and local government retirees received between 1996 and 2012 was one of the more controversial proposals...

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...