Senate bill aims to fix unintended consequence of pension reform so as not to hurt state police

02/27/2014 08:00 AM

An unintended consequence from last year’s pension reforms could cost the Kentucky State Police millions of dollars in federal overtime.

So a Senate panel on Wednesday passed a bill that would clarify efforts to crack down on public pension padding, also called “spiking.”

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, said the pension reform bill lawmakers approved last year included a provision to ensure that state government employees didn’t get sharp increases, or spikes, in their pay just before they retired in order to dramatically fatten their retirement benefits. Anyone who saw an increase in salary of more than 10 percent year-to-year within the last five years before retirement would fall into the category of “spiking.”

The problem is that wording was too broad and didn’t make exceptions, such as for state police troopers who bring in overtime pay.

Senate Bill 142 aims to exempt certain types of income — like overtime for state troopers, workers compensation payments or paid maternity leave — from being factored in.

The Kentucky League of Cities, Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters and the Kentucky State Police all advocated for changes to the legislation.

In the case of the Kentucky State Police, Commissioner Rodney Brewer said last year’s bill had unintended consequences that could make Kentucky actually lose federal dollars.

The ranks of state troopers have dropped to a 30-year low because of budget cutbacks. And the agency is relying more on federal overtime paid through grants for certain purposes, like seeking out speeding motorists. Under last year’s bill, the police would have to cutback those hours so they don’t incur a spike in pay.

The bill passed out of committee without opposition, although two Democrats did not vote on the bill. The legislation now heads to the full Senate.


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