Gov. Bevin says pension reform proposal coming "very soon," office sets 9 a.m. news conference Wednesday

10/17/2017 05:29 PM

FRANKFORT — Gov. Matt Bevin said Tuesday that he expects the legislative proposal to fix Kentucky’s ailing pension system will be rolled out “very soon,” with his office scheduling a 9 a.m. news conference Wednesday to unveil the plan.

Although he didn’t reveal details of the proposal, Bevin said the public will have “weeks” to read and understand how top officials plan to revamp public pensions offered by the state, which faces estimated unfunded pension liabilities ranging from $37 billion to $64 billion.

Top administration and legislative leaders negotiating the legislation behind closed doors have been mum on what the bill will contain, with only recommendations from the PFM Group to the Public Pension Oversight Board made available for public consumption. That report generally suggested moving toward defined-contribution retirement plans for public workers in non-hazardous roles, with newly hired teachers enrolled in Social Security as well.

“It’s going to be easy for people to understand, and we’re going to actually distribute to those of you in the media when we announce this detailed bullet-point information,” Bevin said after a ceremonial bill signing in the Capitol rotunda.

“We’re also going to make available to everybody when this is announced and opportunity to sit down at whatever duration of time you all want with our Budget Director John Chilton and his team to go through whatever questions you would have about this, so it’s going to have ample opportunity for people to read it, people to understand it, people to ask questions.”

Later Tuesday, Bevin’s office scheduled a 9 a.m. news conference with Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, at the Capitol to unveil the proposal, dubbed “Keeping the Promise.”

Bevin said he had a “pretty good idea” of when he plans to call lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session, which last a minimum of five days, but he did not reveal that timeframe on Tuesday.

“I could throw out a date, but if we allow the door to be open and the horse to run out before we’ve hooked up the cart, what good does that do?” he said, adding that the special session will be “very soon.”

The bill is more than 400 pages long and has been actuarially scored and re-scored as those crafting the proposal alter different details of the proposal, the governor said.

“That is a never-ending saga, but yes, it has been,” Bevin said. “This is a good plan. It’s one that fulfills the promise. It’s one that allows people to get what it is that they were promised — those that are retired, those that are working toward retirement — but also preserves the system for them and for others not yet in it.”

Bevin also addressed an idea to legalize recreational marijuana in Kentucky, reiterating his opposition to such a plan.

He said the $100 million expected to be generated from legalized marijuana would not sufficiently cover unfunded liabilities that top $60 billion at the higher range of estimates.

“The odds of that happening, not high, and all pun intended,” Bevin said. “I will say this: If you look at this, the proposal that this would generate $100 million? We have a $60 billion problem at least, probably bigger. That’s 600 years of smoking pot to fix the pension crisis. I don’t think that’s the solution for Kentucky.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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