The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce wants a full performance audit of the troubled Kentucky Retirement Systems.
Chamber President Dave Adkisson Thursday called on state Auditor Adam Edelen to look into KRS, which is rated as one of the most underfunded pension plans in the nation, with only about 45-percent of the assets needed to cover its retirement obligations.
Adkisson said his group is especially concerned about the burden placed on the actuary who advises the system.
“The assumptions they make lead to KRS recommendations, and a request for money that goes to the Governor,” Adkisson said during a conference call with reporters. “The Governor has to utilize that information to build his budget that goes to the legislature, and all of this is predicated on the assumptions of one actuary. And KTRS, the teachers’ retirement system, uses the same actuary.”
Adkisson says a KRS audit should also look into the amount of investment fees paid by the system, and how that compares to other states. An estimated 30-percent of KRS investments are held in hedge funds and private equity funds, which charge high fees and whose holdings KRS agrees not to reveal.
Some businesses in Kentucky are working to extend cyber Monday through the end of the week. A number of advertisements this past weekend promoted an e-commerce focus for the entire week.
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson says UPS in Louisville is beefing up its workforce to keep up with demand, as is a major on-line delivery service in the Bluegrass Region.
"In central Kentucky, you have Amazon and locations where they are shipping product through all hours of the day and night," said Adkisson. "So Kentucky with its central location and great logistics network both air and rail and highway, we're in great shape to take advantage of e-commerce."
In addition to big corporations like UPS and Amazon, Adkisson says many smaller retailers have reinvented themselves to take advantage of e-commerce. Adkisson says e-commerce is still not viable for all Kentucky retailers.
"There's fallout from this. You know a traditional main street merchant who has not made that leap or whose business products and services don't really lend themselves to e-commerce, they have to emphasize customer service and other facets of their business that will keep their customers loyal," added Adkisson.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. In a written statement released Tuesday the Chamber says Kentucky residents may be affected more than any other state in the nation by the new standards which seek to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by the year 2030.
The Chamber says the new regulations will cost jobs, drive up utility rates for homeowners and eliminate Kentucky’s competitive advantage when it comes to attracting industries with the promise of low energy prices.
“Kentucky's long-standing advantage of offering low electric rates has allowed our state to recruit tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs that now support Kentucky families. Under this energy proposal, that advantage would be wiped off the board and Kentucky would suffer the consequences for generations to come,” the release stated.
The EPA along with the White House and many environmental groups defend the standards, citing carbon’s effect on climate change and respiratory health.
Another change in Kentucky’s financial outlook has the state’s business leaders calling on the General Assembly for immediate pension reforms.
Standard and Poor’s has changed Kentucky’s outlook to negative, citing the state's large unfunded pension obligations as the main reason.
In response, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, as well as 50 other business groups, held a news conference to demand that lawmakers pass the recommendations from last year’s pension task force as they were presented.
Chamber President and former Owensboro mayor David Adkission said the change is the best reason for why reforms need to happen soon.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the State Department of Education, is promoting dialogue about the future of education in the Commonwealth. The business organization says the goal of creating a more highly-skilled workforce will depend upon the success of new education initiatives in the state.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is taking a firmer stand on conservative issues. Republican legislators have criticized the chamber in the past for supporting Democratic-led proposals like expanded gambling and a higher dropout age while staying quiet on so-called right to work and prevailing wage laws.