KY legislative group scraps past, sets to work toward fresh pension fix

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - The $38 billion public pension crisis remains one of the most divisive issues Kentuckians face.

It’s led to accusations of questionable political moves, lawsuits and large protests, but now legislators said they are making an effort to scrap the past and forge a new solution.

A public pension legislative working group was announced last Friday. It is tasked with crafting a public pension fix by conducting a review of the systems' structure, cost, benefits and funding.

"We think that's a positive step that legislators will be working with stakeholders," Jim Carroll, President of the advocacy group Kentucky Government Retirees, said. "We think that's important."

That work will be accomplished through a panel consisting of 10 republicans and four democrats- including senate leadership.

Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, (D) - Louisville, posted on social media Senate President Robert Stivers told him the group will be starting from scratch to form a pension solution.

That would be a different strategy than what was put forward during December's Special Session, when a bill very similar to SB 151 – the sewer bill-turned pension law- was the fix of choice delivered by lawmakers before canceling the session.

Carroll said work toward previous pension solutions lacked transparency.

He said he hopes to promote pension funding through a level dollar contribution, instead of relying payroll growth.

"There have been attempts to curtail those rights and make changes in benefits and we're going to stand up for those folks and help them advocate for themselves," Carroll said. "We have a contract that says benefits shall be paid and we expect them to honor that contract."

KEA leaders said they will be at the working group meetings too.

As the legislative group, containing former and current educators from both rural and urban areas, embarks toward a goal of making a recommendation to the general assembly by Mid-February, members said they will be holding open meetings with open minds.

The group’s first meeting will be Tuesday morning, January 15, in the Capitol Annex at 9:30 a.m.

McGarvey writes on social media that the group is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Thursday mornings for the next three weeks.

While a deadline for a recommendation to be submitted has been set, an LRC press release also states extensions may be made to it through December 2019.

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