Beshear keeps optimism in face of pension negotiations; Says 2013 session still "pretty impressive"

03/15/2013 03:09 PM

While legislators have been saying for weeks that the 2013 legislative session will be a “failure” if pension reforms don’t pass, Gov. Steve Beshear said Friday he is impressed with what has been accomplished.

And he said he remains optimistic a compromise can be found on the pension impasse.

In sessions past when key bills could not be agreed upon, Beshear pointed at then- Senate President David Williams. But with Williams now a judge and out of Frankfort, current Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has been quick to cast blame on House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat.

Beshear, who was very critical of Williams, was asked by Courier-Journal reporter Greg Hall if this session is that much different from the past especially if pension reform fails.

“This session has been a very good working environment I think for everybody. I think House leadership Senate leadership and the Governors Office has a good close working relationship,” Beshear said. “Obviously we haven’t agreed on everything, but when you get to the end of this session I think you’re going to see a report card that’s going to be pretty impressive…”

House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, joined Beshear at an announcement in Louisville for the ‘bridges to opportunity’ project, which creates a training program for minorities and women to work on construction projects like the Ohio River Bridges.

Clark said he was going to speak with Beshear after the announcement to set a schedule of when Senate and House leaders might sit down to work out a pension compromise.

“We found out the Senate would not pass a funding mechanism. We’d like for (Beshear) to sit back down with (Stumbo) and President Stivers of the Senate to see if we can come up with a funding mechanism,” Clark said. “Otherwise we’ll probably have to have a special session to come back to address the funding for pensions.”

The governor said he remained hopeful both sides could avoid a special session to solve the pension crisis. Pure Politics asked Beshear how he kept his optimism with the recent breakdown in talks.

“We are in active discussions on both the pension issues and on ways to fund any solution, and as long as everybody is participating in good faith – and they are – then I’m optimistic that somehow or another we’re going to figure this out,” Beshear said.


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