Republican candidates make call to reform legislative pensions

09/12/2012 11:39 AM

Republican state House and Senate candidates held a joint press conference Wednesday morning in the Capitol Rotunda to call for reforms on all incoming legislative pensions.

Chris McDaniel, R- 23rd Senate candidate, spoke on behalf of the candidates as he told the gathered press the biggest challenges facing Kentuckians is the unfunded liability. McDaniel recognized that tough choices will need to be made in regard to the public pension system, but called the legislative reform the first small step.

“We are committed to making our pension plan solvent, fair, and relevant,” McDaniel said. “Today we are taking the first step by collectively announcing that the first piece of legislation we will introduce will to be to eliminate the defined benefit pension plan for legislators and replace it with a defined contribution plan.”

State House Republican candidate Brian Linder, Dist. 61, attacked the current House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, over his legislative pension.

“When part-time legislators like Greg Stumbo have full-time pensions, pensions that in Speaker Stumbo’s case accrue to over $1.25 million, we have a problem, and it is our responsibility to act,” Linder said. “We believe this action, while a small step, is an important one toward eliminating the most predictable crisis Kentucky has ever faced.”

Details of the plan include:

– Changes to the pension plan would be for all new members of the General Assembly starting in 2013. – All state legislators will have the option to enroll in a 401k style plan. – The plan will be portable to other places of employment – Retiree health care will no longer be an option for legislative service.

Democratic House candidate Kelly Whitaker, who is running in the 2nd House District, has made the strongest call for legislative pension reforms. She said at the annual Fancy Farm picnic that she wants to end the legislative pension system and move the leftover money into the state employee retirement fund.

Whitaker released a statement after the Republicans, including 2nd District candidate Richard Heath, made their proposal Wednesday.

“While I am glad to see that my opponent has taken a step, albeit a very small step, in my direction on the legislative pension issue, his proposal today does not go nearly far enough and remains too costly for tax payers,” Whitaker said.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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