Grant County Democrat concerned that Kentucky pension solutions have failed in other states

11/01/2017 12:17 PM

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williamstown attorney and former 4th Congressional District candidate Bill Adkins is tired of Republicans blaming Democrats for the pension crisis, saying that some of the blame goes back to the administration of Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Adkins, who is also a member of the Grant County Democratic Executive Committee, said that 15-20 years ago, all of the pension funds had healthy balances.

“The greatest decrease or damage done was actually done between 2003 and 2008,” Adkins said. “If you look back to 2002, the KTRS was at 125 percent funded, and KERS was 111 percent funded. In 2008, when Fletcher left office, both of those funds was decimated, KTRS was down to 52 percent from 125 percent, KERS was down to 68 percent from 111. It’s not a bi-partisan issue, there’s some responsibility to go around here.”

Adkins is concerned that state workers will not get what was promised them when they began their employment and is also concerned about the fate of the hazardous workers, who saw their benefits go untouched.

“You’re going to have the idea from the governor and the Republicans that, you know what, you in the hazardous KERS, we’re not going to bother you, we just need your support to diminish the income and benefits associated with the non-hazardous, and that way that works is, your turn is later,” Adkins said. “That was done in Wisconsin and the same result happened.”

While the Williamstown Democrat agrees that addressing the pension crisis is a must, he feels the solution which is being presented by the governor and House and Senate leadership was rushed and will not successfully address the issue.

“I certainly think that they should be more deliberate in what they do, and certainly they are repeating already made, already proven failures,” Adkins said. “The solution that they’re putting forth going to 401-k’s, it’s been tried in other states, it’s cost those states money. West Virginia tried it, did it for about 15 years and went back to defined benefit because it was a failure.”

Adkins would like to see a well thought out solution which doesn’t, in his mind, penalize the states employees and have unintended consequences down the road.

“We’ve got to address this as Kentuckians,” Adkins said. “The reality is we’ve got solutions, we’ve got problems, we need to apply them and stop being part of the problem. The haste which they’ve addressed this issue, I think it’s dangerous, I think it’s volatile, it’s going to cost us long term.”


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