Sen. Thayer joins growing list of lawmakers calling for KRS director to step down

12/03/2015 03:04 PM

Funding pensions are among the major issues facing lawmakers when they return to Frankfort on Jan. 5 for the legislative session, but complicating matters is a huge funding request for teachers’ retirement, and controversy over the head of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.

KRS Executive Director Bill Thielen has caught the ire of several lawmakers after accepting a 25 percent pay increase, and postponing his retirement.

Multiple lawmakers including: Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, Auditor-elect Mike Harmon, and now Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, are calling for Thielen to step down.

“I wish Bill would not take the raise and not take the contract extension. If he does I think he ought to resign, step down or be encouraged to retire,” Thayer said in an interview with Pure Politics on Tuesday.

Thayer went on to say the KRS board of trustees improperly handled the national search for Thielen’s replacement.

“I don’t think it was handled well by the KRS board,” Thayer continued. “I think when you open up a national search, and you know that the guy that’s in the spot now is saying he’s retiring you’ve got to have the search. I think they owe that to the taxpayers and the employees that are invested in the KRS — I don’t think they lived up to their responsibility to do that.”

Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System

On Tuesday, the 25-member Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System Funding Work Group opted to put forward a bevy of potential changes to teachers’ retirement in an effort to shore up $14 billion in unfunded liabilities.

KTRS officials have said they will seek more than $1 billion in additional funding in next year’s budget session as recommended by actuaries. But that dollar amount is likely going to be out of reach for the General Assembly.

“I think the likelihood of the teachers’ retirement getting the full ARC is not great,” Thayer said. “I’m not going to predict it will happen. I’m not going to predict it won’t happen.”

Thayer said he’s “excited” for Gov.-elect Matt Bevin and his cabinet to get their hands on the KTRS work group suggestions.

“We’re going to get a fresh set of eyes looking at the retirement systems from a whole new perspective,” he 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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