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 is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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