FRANKFORT – Calling the new public-pension law, Senate Bill 151, a “major step backward for all of Kentucky,” state Rep. Linda Belcher has filed an amendment that would give the General Assembly a chance to reverse its actions before concluding the legislative session.
“This law was introduced and passed in less than nine hours, with no actuarial study, no input from Democratic legislators and no public comment,” said Rep. Belcher of Shepherdsville. “Thousands of teachers and public workers have since rallied in opposition, public-opinion polls show little support and the Attorney General’s office has filed suit, claiming there are more than a dozen violations with this law. With my amendment, we have the chance to correct this mess and return to the bipartisan reforms that were working.”
“The 2013 reforms to the pension system were approved the right way,” House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins added. “They were done transparently and with stakeholder input and they’ve maintained solid public support. They’ve also proven to be the right choice for Kentucky, because the full funding they mandated enabled our retirement systems to post double-digit investment increases. As I have said many times, all we need to do is keep what we have and fund it. Under the new law, however, we will pay billions of dollars more than necessary over the next 30 years while new teachers and tens of thousands of public workers will get much less in retirement. That’s just wrong.”
Rep. Belcher’s amendment – which is attached to Senate Bill 113, an unrelated retirement measure – would completely remove the enacted language of Senate Bill 151, the public-pension bill that many also call the sewage bill because that was the original subject matter of Senate Bill 151. “It’s our hope that the Republicans will show their support for government workers, educators and first responders by calling Senate Bill 113 so we can act on my amendment,” Rep. Belcher said.
She added that “if the sewage/pension bill is allowed to stand, it will cause irreparable harm to the teaching profession, which I know well since I dedicated my career to education. These teachers do not receive Social Security, so this change to a 401(k)-style retirement for new teachers puts them at much greater financial risk. The local and state government workers hired since 2014 will share that same worry about their pensions by having a reduced benefit. With these changes, it will now be much tougher for us in the years ahead, to get the teachers and public workers we must have and that taxpayers deserve.”
Both Rep. Belcher and Leader Adkins said that, if the amendment is not approved, they would seek to have the law retroactively overturned when the 2019 Regular Session begins.