Kentuckians should be concerned about public pension fund but patient with reforms, Thayer says

05/16/2014 11:53 AM

The Kentucky Employee Retirement System has become the most precariously positioned pension fund in the country with only 23.2 percent of assets needed to cover the benefits of current and future retired workers in the system.

That should be a concern, said Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. But, he added, the fund should begin to bounce back now that the General Assembly and governor have signed off on a budget that puts the state’s full required contribution for the first time in well over a decade.

Thayer said a package of pension system changes approved in 2013 has put the state on the right path to shoring up the system but said progress will not happen over night.

When asked about the fund’s board and leadership during an interview with Pure Politics Thursday, Thayer expressed some concerns about their ability to make the right investment decisions.

“That is going to be up to the legislative panel that was created under Senate Bill 2 to provide even more oversight for the KRS and hopefully make sure that some of the decisions on some of these funds that they have been choosing are the right way to go,” Thayer said.

Thayer pointed to the Kentucky Teacher’s Retirement System for making some better investment decisions but did acknowledge that system has some underfunding issues that need to be addressed.

Leaders of that fund requested nearly $1 billion extra over two years as part of the biennial budget the General Assembly approved this year. Thayer said that amount was not going to happen because it would be “one ninth of the annual budget.”

But because the legislature did not find the money for the teacher’s retirement fund, some teachers in Louisville have decided to take matters into their own hands and will file a lawsuit seeking $11 billion dollars from the government, according to WFPL.

Thayer said he did not want to comment on litigation but did say it might not play well for the group when it comes to negotiating with lawmakers.

“Seems like everybody wants to go to court these days, so I don’t know if it will help or not,” Thayer said.

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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