New House state government chairman: 'Horrible' pension funding problem must be dealt with in '13

01/14/2013 07:09 PM

The “horrible” position Kentucky’s public pension systems are in must be handled in 2013 before the funds begin running dry and before city and county governments are “eaten alive,” said the new House state government committee chairman.

Rep. Brent Yonts, the Greenville Democrat who has been in the House since 1997, was named House state government committee chairman on Friday. In preparation for this new role, Yonts spent the last six months on the legislative task force that recommended ways to shore up the Kentucky Retirement System, which handles the pensions for retired state, county and city workers and state police.

“I think we will pass a reform,” Yonts said at 4:15 in the interview. He said later in the interview that he heard rumblings in Frankfort the Senate might wait beyond the first week to push through its version of the reform bill. “But I think we have to act on it,” he added. (6:00)

“Unless we fix the system now and stabilize it with a combination of help from the improved economy, in four to six years we will be paying as we go,” he said (4:30)

The big question is whether the reforms should outline where extra money comes from so that the state could make its full actuarial required payment into the system. Yonts said he would prefer to identify a funding source.

The interview began with Yonts addressing the news of school districts having to pay out more than $50 million collectively to pay off a deficit in the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust. Yonts said the state likely wouldn’t be able to help with the payments.

“I’m not sure we can financially bail them out because $50 (million) to $60 million is a lot of money,” he said. (1:00)

_(More of the interview with Rep. Yonts will be online Tuesday morning). _

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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