A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bills to help health departments with pensions pass House; some will require public-health tax hikes

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Two bills that were presented as part of a “three-phase approach” to create a sustainable solution to local health departments’ pension crisis passed the state House Feb. 13. The third part of the plan involves the state budget. The budget committee chair, Republican Rep. Steven Rudy of Paducah, cautioned House members that passage of the bills...

Beshear unveils ‘Education First’ budget ending 14 years of cuts; funds health, pensions, social workers

Gov. Andy Beshear outlined his first budget to lawmakers on Tuesday prioritizing education, health care and protecting our children, underlining his belief that a budget is a statement of values. “It is a budget that not only ends years of painful cuts, it also makes a major investment in public education, fully funds expanded Medicaid, makes a historic investment in protecting our children, directs...

State of Commonwealth: Gov. Beshear says state’s future depends on Kentuckians working together

In his first State of the Commonwealth address on Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky’s future depends on leaving divisive politics in the past and focusing on providing opportunity for every Kentucky family.   Gov. Beshear said the transformational and positive change Kentucky families count on occurs when we break the cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction, and obtain a good-paying career,...

State lawmakers convene Tuesday for 60-day session — and two-year budget is at the top of the agenda

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today State lawmakers return to Frankfort on Tuesday, January 7, with a two-year budget topping the agenda for the 60-day session. Both the House and Senate have a Republican supermajority, and the relationship with Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was still contentious at times. With Democrat Andy Beshear now in the Governor’s office, will the current cordial relationship last? Senate...

Governor, legislative leadership say excess revenues of $194m will go to retired teacher health, pensions

Gov. Matt Bevin Thursday joined Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne to announce that Kentucky closed Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) on June 30th with record high state revenues, creating a significant budget surplus for the state. According to data released by the Office of the State Budget Director, Kentucky’s FY19 General Fund revenues exceeded estimates by $194.5 million,...

BBB Trends: It’s Military Appreciation Month, veterans; advice — beware of pension poachers

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau May is National Military Appreciation Month, an observance that encourages citizens to honor current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and those that perished in the line of duty in pursuit of American freedom. But even the noblest of ideals won’t deter unscrupulous individuals out there looking to make a few quick bucks or steal the identity of the...

Jason Bailey: Watch out for attack on pensions on legislative session’s final day, March 28

The General Assembly adjourned for the veto period without providing relief from soon-to-spike pension costs to quasi-governmental organizations like regional universities and community mental health centers. The legislature can still prevent an unaffordable increase on the session’s final day — March 28 — but must reject attempts to attach harmful pension changes that would set Kentucky...

Al Cross: As General Assembly ends, it did not — in most big ways — act in the public interest

FRANKFORT – With almost all its work done, has the current session of the Kentucky General Assembly acted in the public interest? In many small ways, yes. But in most big ways, no. And, of course, it depends on how you define “public interest.” For example, what some see as needed competition for failing public schools, and more opportunity for students, is seen by others as a drain on schools...

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...

Andy Beshear: Response to Bevin’s Chief of Staff; Kentuckians know the truth about ‘Sewer Bill’

A wise teacher recently told me, “If you’re doing the right thing, you don’t hide it in a sewer bill.” That’s what the General Assembly did when it turned an 11-page sewer bill into a 291-page pension bill and rammed it through both the House and Senate in just 6 hours, all without a single public comment, without giving legislators time to read it and without any analysis on whether it would...

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...