Former Secretary of State believes there's still time for special session on pension reform in 2017

11/14/2017 02:32 PM

ERLANGER – As everyone wonders whether Gov. Matt Bevin will call a special session to address pension reform in the wake of the House sexual harassment scandal, former Republican Kentucky Secretary of State and Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Trey Grayson still believes that there is time for a session to take place before then end of the year.

Grayson, now an attorney with Frost Brown Todd LLC, believes that having the special session on pensions is imperative before starting the 2018 budget session.

“Once you get past Thanksgiving, there’s three to four good weeks before Christmas that the legislature could come together and come in for a special session if they can come to an agreement,” Grayson said. “While these scandals don’t help, I think there’s enough momentum behind this effort and enough general agreement on broad principals, and there’s a large enough Republican majority that if the Republican governor wants to get this done , and he can address the concerns that he’s hearing from his fellow Republicans, they can get this done before the session.”

Grayson isn’t concerned about the fact that some Republicans, including leadership, have acknowledged that the votes weren’t there to pass the proposal because the legislation has been in the process of being modified.

“Yesterday, we heard an acknowledgement at the Kentucky Retirement System’s board meeting that the reason they withheld the second financial report was that the plan was being tweaked,” Grayson said. “It does show that there is enough to try to make it from an economic standpoint and a political standpoint better.”

Some have speculated that the later it gets in the year, the General Assembly could address the pension issue the first week of the 2018 session, but that’s something Grayson advises against.

“There’s the discipline of a special session where if you can come to an agreement and call it, you want to be able to get that done in 5 days, the minimum number, so that you’re not wasting any more taxpayer dollars,” Grayson said. “Once you start on day one and you know you have 60 days, it’s real easy to postpone a vote.”

Grayson feels that the pension proposal is a workable solution to a problem that has to be fixed, and fixed now.

“I support the general parameters of the proposals and appreciate the governor and the legislative leaders who put a lot of time in trying to grasp a solution that is really long term,” Grayson said. “It’s not a Band-Aid that gets us out of this risk guaranteed business which has been done in the private sector over the last few decades.”

Democrats have said that the sexual harassment scandal could lead to big gains for them in 2018, and that’s something that Grayson says that history shows that the GOP needs to work on to control the damage.

“We do know that scandals do have a way of changing the politics, Republicans win in states that they shouldn’t win, Democrats win in states they shouldn’t win, because of the personal scandals,” Grayson said. “When I was running for Secretary of State in 2003 and again in 2007, the Governor Patton scandal in 2003, that certainly gave us Republicans something to talk about in 2003, and then the challenges Governor Fletcher had in the hiring investigation, gave then candidate Beshear, soon to be Governor Beshear, something to run on.”


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