House considering 16 options to fund pension shortfall; Will discuss but not vote on Senate's bill

02/20/2013 07:09 PM

House Democratic leaders are considering 16 funding sources, including tax increases, as ways to cover the cost of the state paying its full share into the Kentucky Retirement System, House leaders said Wednesday evening.

Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville and the chairman of the House State Government Committee, said the House Democratic leadership would likely whittle the list down to “one or two” that would be recommended to the rest of the majority caucus.

That likely won’t happen until next week. A shell bill was filed Tuesday that would contain those funding plans. And it would go through the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, Yonts said.

In the meantime, Yonts said his committee on Thursday will take up Senate Bill 2 — the measure the Senate passed that outlines reforms to the pension system. Democrats said they don’t want to pass the bill as-is because it doesn’t outline a way to pay for the state’s increased payment, which will amount to about $100 million a year, Yonts said.

“The funding not being paid is what got us into the problem, which got us to the task force, which got us to this mess right now,” he said.

Yonts wouldn’t identify the 16 different funding sources. House Speaker Greg Stumbo has talked publicly about a couple of them: raising the cigarette tax by 40 cents per pack and legalizing instant racing to go statewide. And Thursday, he said another option would be to apply the state’s 6 percent sales tax on the sale of lottery tickets.

As for the other suggestions, “most were contained in the task force on tax reform report,” Stumbo said.

Yonts said Senate Bill 2 will be debated in Thursday’s committee meeting but that the House panel will eventually replace it with a committee substitute next week. That substitute bill is awaiting an official actuarial analysis, Yonts said.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.

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