Rep. Derrick Graham says teacher's retirement budget shortfall must be addressed ASAP

11/08/2013 08:14 AM

The legislature must somehow address a growing shortfall with the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System especially considering teachers who receive those pensions don’t get Social Security, said Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort.

Officials with the state’s teacher retirement system came before a legislative committee this fall in advance of next year’s budgets process and said they will be asking for $390 million in the next year and then $400 million after that in order to shore up their retirement system.

So that’s about $400 million more dollars — each year — in new money. And while the state is already facing a lot of tough choices going into the next session, Graham says this issue is one that needs to be addressed sooner than later.

“I think that we can not kick the can down the road,” Graham said. “This is something we are going to have to address in this particular session.”

Gary Harbin, executive director of the teachers retirement system, said the teachers retirement system also accept donated assets from the state and used the example of timberland.

Graham said that option could be on the table as well as bonding to pay for the shortfall.

Graham said Harbin has not waited until the last minute to bring the issue in front of the legislature but instead has been talking about the need for the state to kick in extra money for the last five years. Because the governor and General Assembly has not, the amount the fund would need has grown each year.

“And we are talking about, in terms of total number of people who are impacted by this, about 140,000 Kentuckians,” Graham said (at 2:00 in the interview). “Who do not get Social Security and that’s the key. The difference between the teachers and the state employees is that the teachers only rely upon their teachers retirement.”

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