COLA adjustments "highly unlikely," legislative leader says

09/06/2017 02:56 PM

FRANKFORT — A week after consultants recommended sweeping changes to state pension plans one lawmaker expressed doubt on one of the more controversial suggestions.

House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, told reporters that rolling back pensions of retired state employees that have increased due to cost of living adjustments would be “highly unlikely.”

“There may be some variation, but I mean it’s highly unlikely that this group that has been working on that would consider that recommendation,” Hoover said.

Hoover told reporters after the Legislative Research Commission meeting in Frankfort on Wednesday that work continues on potential pension reforms calling talks “a work in progress.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, refused to speak about specifics on potential changes to the states’ retirement systems, but he did make a distinction about the recommendations offered by the PFM Group to the Public Pension Oversight Board last week to pay down pension debt ranging anywhere from $37 to $64 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

“Recommendations are just that,” Stivers said. “Understand how this system works. The final say so in what will be presented to a governor at some point in time will be done so by the General Assembly, and I have yet to see that the PFM has a seat in any chamber.”

Lawmakers in the House and in the Senate have now had an opportunity to speak with consultant from PFM regarding their final report and recommendations. Stivers told reporters he plans on drafting a letter calling on all lawmakers to present their suggestions to solve the pension crisis.

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