Ky. can save money for pensions by changing elections and Ky. prevailing wage law, freshman senator says

02/05/2013 07:57 AM

With the General Assembly looking at finding roughly $300 million more before the next state budget to pump into the state pension system, one senator will suggest ways the state could save money for that — although his suggestions could cause a stir.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican freshman from Taylor Mill, said he will file a bill this session aimed at changing the state’s constitution to hold the election for governor and other statewide offices during presidential election years instead of the year before presidential elections. The last governor’s race was in 2011 and the next will be in 2015. McDaniel said that could save the state $5 million.

“In Kenton County we spend $377,000 on the off-cycle elections. Jefferson County spends $600,000 on off cycle elections and one third of that money comes from the state into the county. As you look across the state, you begin to annualize that you’re looking at 4 to 5 million dollars a year,” McDaniel said (at 3:00).

McDaniel also said he’d like to see state lawmakers repeal the prevailing wage law, in which construction workers hired to build public projects such as roads or schools must be paid at rates based on a calculation of union wages in the region.

Former Gov. Ernie Fletcher proposed repealing that law in 2006 but was met with fierce resistance from Democrats and some Republican lawmakers. Hear what McDaniel says about the plan in the interview:

Overall, McDaniel said Kentucky must deal with the financially unstable Kentucky Retirement System, which handles the retirement benefits for state, city and county workers and the state police. The system has more than $18 billion in unfunded liabilities and is slated to go bust within five years.

And he said he hopes that discussion also spreads to reforms of legislators’ pensions.

“There are many issues, the pension system has had many evolutions through the years and there are lots of different things that need to be handled so I think you’ll see several things be handled concurrently,” McDaniel said (at 2:20).

McDaniel has co-sponosored bills with Democratic Sen. Dennis Parrett of Elizabethtown — Senate Bill 12 — and Sen. Tom Buford of Nicholasville — Senate Bill 14 — to close the legislative pension system for future lawmakers.

“I think lawmakers on both sides of the aisle ought to be open to the idea of finding these inefficiencies in government and weeding them out and using it to honor our obligations to these retirees,” McDaniel said (at 7:40).

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