Democrat for auditor Adam Edelen talks pension reform, campaign cash and the 'coattail' effect

09/15/2011 07:39 AM

Steps by the legislature and Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration in 2008 to stem rising state pension costs haven’t succeeded in bolstering that system or reducing Kentucky’s debt, said Democratic candidate for state auditor Adam Edelen.

“It’s clearly not enough,” Edelen said at 4:50 into the interview. “Let’s call a spade a spade … My guess is you’ll see the administration work with the legislature on it sometime early in this next term.”

Edelen, the former chief of staff to Gov. Steve Beshear, said the candidates for governor “absolutely” should be talking about how to tackle it.

Republican candidate for governor David Williams, who is the state Senate president, has called for changing the system for future state workers to be more of a 401(k)-style set-up.

Edelen said “everything should be on the table” but expressed skepticism that switching to a 401(k) — or defined contribution — system would be the right financial move.

“I can’t imagine that the government’s going to be able to provide a match for those who make a 401(k) style contribution,” Edelen said after the 3:00 mark.

Indeed, consultants who looked at the 401(k)-style system said earlier this year that Kentucky would have to pay more money in the coming years to match new employees’ contributions and also pay for current and retired workers’ pensions before the state costs would start going down.

In the second part of the interview, Edelen said he will begin airing television ads “fairly soon.” (1:00 into the second segment)

“I don’t think we’ll hit a million dollars,” Edelen said of his fundraising. Candidates’ campaign finance reports won’t become public until next month.

Edelen, who has narrowly led his Republican opponent John Kemper in the polls, said he didn’t expect that his race would be affected by the results at the top of the ballot with the governor’s race.

“I’m going to give you an answer that probably a lot of people at Democratic headquarters aren’t going to like. The fact is there are no coattails in Kentucky anymore,” Edelen said at 2:40 in the segment.


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