Stivers to Stumbo: Pensions and Medicaid, not UPike and special districts, should be top priorities

12/04/2012 07:23 PM

In 2013, legislators must be focused on shoring up Kentucky’s woefully underfunded public employee pension system and exerting stronger oversight over the state’s Medicaid managed care scheme, said Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.

Those two programs — state retirement fund payments and Medicaid — are increasingly eating up larger shares of the state’s annual budget, which is around $9.5 billion for fiscal year 2013. Medicaid already costs $6 billion in state and federal funds. And the legislative task force on pensions has recommended increasing the state’s payments into the Kentucky Retirement System from around $500 million to more than $800 million in 2015 — just to get up to the level it should be paying but has been shorting.

So Stivers, in an interview with Pure Politics on Tuesday, said lawmakers need to be focused on those two issues above all others in the 30-day General Assembly session that begins Jan. 8. Here’s part of the interview:

He hasn’t officially become Senate president yet, but Stivers already is sending a clear message to his fellow senators and his counterpart across the capitol, House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

Stumbo, as first reported by Kentucky Public Radio’s Kenny Colston, said he won’t vote for additional funding for public universities until the University of Pikeville becomes one of them. Then, on Friday, Stumbo announced he would give the symbolic bill number of House Bill 1 to legislation aimed at tightening oversight of special taxing districts — legislation backed by state Auditor Adam Edelen.

Stivers said while he understands their importance, the pension and Medicaid issues demand lawmakers’ immediate attention.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • David Adams wrote on December 05, 2012 02:55 PM :

    If the Senate has been trying to get 100% ARC on pensions for years, show me one bill that would have accomplished that. (Hint: it’s a trick question.)

  • Kentucky Online Action Group wrote on December 05, 2012 03:33 PM :

    Who pays $500 million a year for the Kentucky Retirement System for state employees? It certainly is not the state, it is the Kentucky tax payers. And now, “the state” wants to increase payments for KRS to $800 million in 2015. It is no wonder the Kentucky Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform is moving forward with proposals to tax Social Security and retiree pensions of $15,000 or less. The federal government already taxes its chunk, and now the state of Kentucky is seeking to do the same.

    The Kentucky Tax Reform Commission already approved preliminary measures to “broaden the tax base” by taxing IRAs, Social Security, and other retirement pensions that our parents and grandparents currently receive. The proposed taxes will include retirement pay for Coal Miners, Teachers, Firemen, Police Officers, the Military, Nurses, and others with pensions as low, or even lower than $15,000 a year. This is an example of state government taxing everybody else’s pensions to pay for government pensions. If you disagree with the state’s tax more, then spend even more approach, take action at:

    Join us on Facebook at:

  • Kentucky Online Action Group wrote on December 05, 2012 04:52 PM :

    Considering the $30 billion plus shortfall in the state employee pension system, I don’t see how any state politician can recommend adding another university or college to the tax payer teet. Great report Mr. Alessi. Unbiased, factual, and much appreciated.

  • Bill Huff wrote on December 06, 2012 09:28 PM :

    Before 1994 Ky lawmakers deliberately violated court ordered payment to Ky retirement system of $23 million dollar acturarial contribution. This was due to estimated 12 bienniums of underfunding creating estimated $37 billion dollar deficit. The Ky retirement board filed 1994 lawsuit. (S.B. 64, 1994)

    In 2013, over several years, State can reduce the state retiree deficit without adversely affecting benefits or service programs.
    Ky lawmakers pass expanded gambling getting agreement from horse industry that $276 million of estimated annual tax gambling income from estimated $500 million would become the annual $276 million actuarial contribution against the $27 billion dollar deficit. Estimated 30 years to pay off $27 billion deficit @276 million annually.

  • Cody Murphy wrote on December 07, 2012 01:45 PM :

    Speaker Stumbo, if you care about Eastern Kentucky you would work to fund EKU and MSU before adding UPike I know you probably have some political favor to pay back to Former Governor Patton but UPike should not be the case. I personally would love to see UPike in the State System, provided the Schools we have are funded first.

What do you have to say?


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.