General Assembly surprise: House and Senate pass pension reform bill

03/29/2018 08:21 PM

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate passed a revised pension reform bill on Thursday night.

Senate Bill 151, which served as the vehicle for a revised Senate Bill 1, passed by a 49 to 46 vote after over two hours of debate on the House floor.

Eleven Republicans voted no while three Republicans didn’t vote.

Later in the evening, the Senate passed the legislation on a 22-15 vote with 5 Republicans, Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, Sen. C.B. Embrey, R-Morgantown, Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, and Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, joining ten Democrats in voting no.

During a committee meeting on Thursday afternoon, Rep. John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville, told committee members that the revised pension bill has minimal changes for the current state worker.

It makes no changes to the current TRS cost of living adjustments (COLAs) which would stay at 1.5 percent, no changes in how many years one must serve to get their “high five” or “high three”, or the multiplier.

The one change after the legislation takes effect is that unused sick days cannot be added on for years of service for retirement credit.

SB 151 would also take away the inviolable contract for all new teachers hired as well as cuts to death benefits for current teachers.

It also places new hires in a hybrid cash balance plan with zero percent guaranteed return.

“This solution will ensure the solvency of our pension system in the years to come,” Carney said. “It guarantees a solid retirement for all public employees, including retired, current and future workers while also giving future workers the chance to capitalize on the type of market returns that we’ve seen the last few years.”

Rep. Derrick Graham objected to having to vote on a bill when he just received it before the meeting.

“This is very unfair to ask the members of this committee to vote on a bill that’s going to impact thousands of Kentuckians and they bring it in here on the last hour of the last days of the General Assembly,” Graham said. “It really says a lot about us as a General Assembly, but it also says a lot about the leadership, not only of this committee, but of our chamber to think we could come in here and make a decision, and we really haven’t had a detailed discussion of the details of the bill are all about.”

Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, questioned Carney on the transparency in SB 151.

Gov. Matt Bevin indicated his approval of the pension bill passed in a tweet late Thursday night saying ; “Tonight 49 members of the Kentucky House and 22 members of the Kentucky Senate voted not to keep kicking the pension problem down the road.

Anyone who will receive a retirement check in the years ahead owes a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men & women who did the right thing.”

The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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