Treasurer Ball sees need for more transparency with retiree accounts; will stay active in lawsuits where needed

01/27/2017 11:33 AM

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball is keeping a watchful eye on the state’s resources, and plans to keep active to protect taxpayer money and be more transparent.

As the legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, legislation making lawmakers pensions transparent — Ball said she would like to see the same thing happen with the state’s public retiree’s accounts.

“If we’re going to make good financial decisions we’ve got to have all the information we can get,” she said. “So, I’m always a fan of more information rather than less and I do think we need to expand the information that we have on retirees — their systems.”

Pointing to a story from Tennessee, Ball said the spur of overhauls to the state’s pension systems was releasing information about retiree’s accounts.

“They found there were certain retirees getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in their retirement accounts, and nobody really had an awareness of this until they made it public, and then once the people realized how much money some people were getting who had been public employees they thought ‘you, know what, this system may not be the best system.’”

Ball side-stepped broader questions on how to re-work revenue for the state in re-working the tax code, but did say there will need to be structural changes to the pension system, and that re-working the tax code would help bring in more revenue to the state by making Kentucky more business friendly.

The former Prestonsburg bankruptcy attorney plans to follow through on promises to be a watchdog on spending in the state, even if that means joining lawsuits — something she did last year.

“I think it’s an important component of my office, I think it’s something I need to be aggressive about,” Ball said. “When it is appropriate, I will jump into lawsuits or just stop spending when it needs to be done.”

Among the first year highlights for Ball, is the STABLE Kentucky program, which allows individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid, SSI, or SSDI.

“We have a lot of people in Kentucky who have disabilities and this is going to be a great program for them,” she said. “This is savings and investments, so they’re going to be tax free at the federal level. And it’s going to allow people to stretch their dollars even more, because it won’t jeopardize the benefits they’re receiving.”

Looking ahead, Ball intends to hone the program, which was launched in mid-December of 2016, and spread the word before the upcoming tax season.

Ball also intends to make the Treasury website more transparent and user friendly.


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