Thayer says leaders will separate pension and tax reforms, discusses possible changes to retirement plans

08/10/2017 04:31 PM

FRANKFORT — Days after Gov. Matt Bevin told a radio host that tax and pension reforms would be split Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said that’s the direction the General Assembly is headed.

“At this time biting off the pension issue and tackling that in a special session is probably the best course, so I think that’s where we’re headed,” said Thayer, R-Georgetown. “We’re working very hard to come up with a bill that helps solve our pension problem, and something we can pass.”

Thayer predicted Bevin would call lawmakers back into special session to deal with the pension issues in late September or early October.

On the revenue side of the equation, Thayer said that the General Assembly will have to continue funding the Kentucky Retirement Systems, but warned to get there budget cuts would likely have to be enacted during the next biennium budget, which is crafted next year.

For retirees, current state employees and future employees there will be structural changes, Thayer said.

“Fewer changes for those that are retired, a few more changes for those that are currently employed and then I would say future employees are going to have a whole new system across the board,” he said.

For current retirees, Thayer said “everything outside of the inviolable contract should be and would be considered.”

One example is a “sick day issue” for current teachers. The Georgetown Republican said some teachers stockpile their sick days to increase their retirement benefits. The stockpiling of the days adds millions of dollars in debt to the pension systems, Thayer said.

The majority leader added that the sick days are not a benefit promised in the inviolable contract, and thus could be changed by the General Assembly. However, he warned that taking away the days could lead to a mass exodus of teachers.

“There’s a pretty good argument out there that you can’t just pull those away from people right away — we certainly don’t want to encourage mass retirements,” he said.

He said there is a reasonable way to phase out the use of hoarding those sick days, and he added that the longer a person was in the system the longer teachers would be able to keep “all or part of your sick days.”

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is 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 his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

12 Comments

Comments

  • nutjob wrote on August 11, 2017 07:20 AM :

    Taking sick days out of the equation will just encourage teachers and other state employees to actually take those days off as they head for retirement – like the old commercial used to say, “you can pay me now or you can pay me later”

  • Catch22 wrote on August 11, 2017 09:13 AM :

    Teachers are not “stockpiling” sick days, we’re going to work! Do you want us to do our job or not?

  • Catch22 wrote on August 11, 2017 09:14 AM :

    Teachers are not “stockpiling” sick days, we’re going to work! Do you want us to do our job or not?

  • JoeB wrote on August 11, 2017 09:50 AM :

    Thayer and his cohorts in the state legislature need to get off the “cut benefits bus” for current retirees and current Tier 1 state employees and teachers.Longtime elected legislators like Thayer are as much responsible for the pension underfunding problem as much as anyone. They spent money that should have been going into KRS as well as KTRS for employees retirements. They spent the money for special projects and running Ky state government. The public has been reaping the benefits of this thievery for over 20 years.Its time for legislators to bite the bullet and put the money back where it should have been put in the first place—-the retirement systems. Make no mistake Damon Thayer court litigation is coming!! Pass legislation that cuts benefits already earned and see what that gets you!! Also many of you can expect opposition at the polls if you follow through.

  • Larry Allen wrote on August 11, 2017 09:52 PM :

    It is interesting that the legislators did not fund the systems as required but now want teachers to bear the brunt of their malfeasance. Every legislator who voted for a budget that did not contain the required contribution should be fined $100,000 for each vote.

  • Larry Allen wrote on August 11, 2017 09:52 PM :

    It is interesting that the legislators did not fund the systems as required but now want teachers to bear the brunt of their malfeasance. Every legislator who voted for a budget that did not contain the required contribution should be fined $100,000 for each vote.

  • Larry Allen wrote on August 11, 2017 09:52 PM :

    It is interesting that the legislators did not fund the systems as required but now want teachers to bear the brunt of their malfeasance. Every legislator who voted for a budget that did not contain the required contribution should be fined $100,000 for each vote.

  • Larry Allen wrote on August 11, 2017 09:52 PM :

    It is interesting that the legislators did not fund the systems as required but now want teachers to bear the brunt of their malfeasance. Every legislator who voted for a budget that did not contain the required contribution should be fined $100,000 for each vote.

  • Larry Allen wrote on August 11, 2017 09:53 PM :

    It is interesting that the legislators did not fund the systems as required but now want teachers to bear the brunt of their malfeasance. Every legislator who voted for a budget that did not contain the required contribution should be fined $100,000 for each vote.

  • Brett wrote on August 12, 2017 10:28 AM :

    I have taught 21 years and I have 170 sick days and the reason I have 170 sick days is because I care about going to work and teaching my kids. I know that I will have the summer to do what I want to do, but from August to May, it is my duty to go and teach. If this gets taken away, expect many school districts begging the state for more money to pay for subs because there will be a lot of absent teachers!

  • Amy wrote on August 12, 2017 02:28 PM :

    Senator Thayer, it is definitely not stockpiling. It is Dedication. I have walked this path for 32 years. I know from experience.

  • Amy wrote on August 12, 2017 02:28 PM :

    Senator Thayer, it is definitely not stockpiling. It is Dedication. I have walked this path for 32 years. I know from experience.

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