Hoover wants a second look at pensions; Sees need for full fledged tax reforms

07/01/2014 08:31 AM

The House Republican leader said Kentucky lawmakers need to take a second look at more changes to Kentucky’s largest public pension system and must stop giving lip service to tax reform.

If Republicans take control of the House in the fall, Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said he would want to closely study how to shore up the finances of the Kentucky Employee Retirement System.

That fund has only 23.2 percent of assets to cover the benefits for current and retired workers. And there’s more if Seven Counties Services, a quasi-governmental mental agency is allowed to leave the pension system — a decision which could be a loss of $90 million to the system.

Hoover said he doesn’t have all the answers, so he wants to gather stakeholders and study the issues — again.

“My idea on that would be bring experts and actuaries and folks in and have a summit or a conference and then when we come up with a solution on what they recommend then I go to work as Speaker traveling across the state for whatever that is,” Hoover said.

House and Senate leaders studied the issue of pension reform as a task force over the interim session in 2012 and the Senate proposed legislation in the 2013 session which came directly from the discussions. However, the House Democratic leadership opted to go a different route once the bill reached the House.

And that’s the point Hoover said — “it never got a hearing.”

Hoover also said that House Republicans want to work on “comprehensive tax reform.” A task force formed by the governor studied the issue in 2012, and Gov. Steve Beshear proposed legislation in 2014. But it went nowhere.

“We’re doing some of the things that we know everybody wants to do and we’re taking them bits and pieces here and there and we’re not doing comprehensive tax reform,” Hoover said.

With every swipe away from the goodie bag of tax reform, Hoover said it becomes that much harder to enact full fledged restructuring. While he threw out lots of options for the state, Hoover said one thing is for sure that the state needs to position itself to become more attractive to business and people.

“We have to make a tax structure that’s more attractive to those that want to locate here,” Hoover said.

In an earlier interview segment with Pure Politics Hoover said he has what it takes to lead the House if Republicans take control of the lower chamber this fall. The GOP would have to defend 42 incumbents and win nine open or Democratic-controlled seats to take the House.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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