Senate leaders still not sure when a pension bill will be in place for consideration

01/12/2018 01:52 PM

FRANKFORT – With Gov. Matt Bevin’s State of the Commonwealth and Budget address scheduled for Tuesday night, there is speculation as to when the first pension bill will surface.

While the Senate waits, the House has been bogged down with all of the drama related to former Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover’s sexual harassment allegations, which has brought progress on a pension bill to a standstill.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, is hopeful that a bill might surface next week, but said it could be longer.

“We’re going to continue to work next week,” Stivers said. “Hopefully, we’ll have something, but I can’t guarantee that.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, shares Stiver’s uncertainty as to when the body will see a compromise bill, but says, after some delays, both Senate and House leadership are back together working on a plan.

“I’m still a little uncertain on the timing,” Thayer said. “We’re still looking at a couple of different pension bills and getting the scores back in bits and pieces. Now, we have started meeting again with House Republican leadership again, and that’s a really good step to restart these pension talks.”

Thayer believes that there some items which were part of Gov. Matt Bevin’s original proposal which absolutely must be part of any effective compromise pension bill.

“Level dollar funding, moving all future employees to a defined contribution like plan,
and then dealing with some of the items that are outside the inviolable contract,” Thayer said.

Gov. Bevin’s address is scheduled for Tuesday evening at 7:00, and Thayer predicts that the message will include some harsh realities.

“We’re probably going to hear a tough love speech from Gov. Bevin,” Thayer said. “I mean he’s really been prepping the commonwealth for this for a very long time. “A lot of bad decisions that started frankly, twenty to twenty five years ago have caught up to us and we’ve got some things we need to change, and I’m looking forward to seeing his perspective on how we deal with some areas that need some funding and other areas where we’re likely going to have to make some cuts in order to shift dollars over to make the required pension contributions.”

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at



  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on January 13, 2018 03:15 PM :

    First, I would like to give credit to Robert Stivers and David Osborne for calling off the session Friday and letting everyone get home safe, before the storm came in. Whether or not the accumulation and the impact was as severe as forecast, it makes no difference to me. Our members who come from western and eastern Kentucky have a lot of window time to navigate on a good day. Safety for all, including those who want to participate in their government, should be taken into consideration, like it was. We threw a fit a few years ago, when the Senate came in. In this instance, credit is warranted for this wise decision.

    Sen. Joe Bowen has announced that he is not seeking reelection in 2018. I have a lot of respect for Sen. Bowen, and I agree with him more often than not. Like, with Sen. Bowen, Sen. Ernie Harris is highly intelligent and articulate, but they just don’t like to speak up on the senate floor nor in their committee hearings. Both, Sen. Harris and Sen. Bowen come from more affluent districts than most. For the life of me, I cannot understand why they have not doled out more of their wisdom, not only to the body, but to the state’s citizens, who are starving for someone to step up and lead. Those two, and others, are fully capable, if they ever took the notion.

    If we are serious about passing this pension bill and not being ran out of office, they need to have a joint committee for at least 3 days, if not 6, two full weeks, Tuesday through Thursday, 8 am to 2 pm, everyday. We have to do something with this massive hole that is getting bigger every single day. Everyone agrees. But, we have gotten very little substance from anyone, in the last 3 or 4 years, on this.

    We have all but wasted the first 2 weeks of the 2018 General Assembly. I don’t care how the Senate tries to play it. They have done very little themselves. What good does it do to pass bills, when even those who follow politics, don’t know what in the world they have passed.

    We have around 45 days left in this 2018 session. If the republican controlled General Assembly wants to do the state and all stake holders a solid, they need to have a joint committee and have everyone tune in to KET during the day, or when they get home at night, to see what is what and what is being proposed. If they just run this like regular order and give this person or that person 5 or 10 minutes and rush them out; then we will know that this is more of kickbacks to special interests than getting the best deal for the state, and we should prepare ourselves for the consequences going forward. Due diligence and the General Assembly do not go in the same sentence.

    To Nick Storm: Nick, during the spring, last year, I went to hear Drew Curtis speak, here in Lexington, on the economy and the forces that technology and artificial intelligence will play in the labor markets going forward. I think you should bring him on the show to talk about labor and what that is going to look like in the 21st century; how that affects the way revenue will stream in and out of the government. That will help with labor force understandings and it will also help if we are going to talk tax reform in the 2018 session.

    Friends, you know and don’t need a study to tell you that the economy is not good. It is getting harder and harder to keep up. Wal-mart announced this week, that they are bumping the hourly wage of their associates from $9 to $11 an hour. Sounds good. Feels good. What they didn’t report is that they are getting ready to lay off 11,000 employees. They are closing over 60 Sam’s Clubs around the nation. They are going to have more stores with increased numbers of self checkout lanes. This is what we have to look forward to. There is no way to turn this trend back. It is here, but our leaders in Washington are not speaking of these new issues. We have to find a way to come up with a number that brings more people into the workforce, but also, if you work 40 hours a week, you shouldn’t have to depend on government handouts. I heard the Governor speak yesterday. He is correct in saying that we cannot afford these government programs the way they are currently, today. I think we spend somewhere around $30 million dollars a day, in Kentucky trying to keep up our citizens who are living in poverty. $30 million dollars a day in welfare benefits, for a state as small as ours, is crazy. But, that is what this new economy has created. Very few winners, and the middle class being left behind, just as the Baby Boomers are retiring. The answer is somewhere in the middle, but we first have to have leaders who will stand up and tell the hard realities as they are and not sugar coat it for their next campaign. RL

  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on January 14, 2018 06:38 PM :

  • sadkyworker wrote on January 17, 2018 10:34 AM :

    Any meetings concerning the pension overhaul MUST include state employees, teachers, city and county employees, KSP, or representatives for these groups. The legislators know ZILCH about how the pension changes would affect the actual WORKER. A provision that might be detrimental to state employees may not have any affect on the teachers and vice versa. Same for the other groups. We have separate pension groups for a reason. But the Governor has to consider raising more revenue. We are dreadfully behind in many areas of education and health but yet these are the programs he has targeted for cuts. The sales tax should have been raised a long time ago but the legislators didn’t have the cajones to do it. They used the money that was meant to pay the ARC instead. The legislators disregard any suggestion that doesn’t raise huge amounts of revenue at one time. Several different revenue raising measures could be implemented to spread out the cost. We don’t need all of our eggs in one basket.

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