pension

Ryland Barton

A judge has denied Gov. Matt Bevin’s request to reconsider a ruling that struck down changes to Kentucky’s pension system, which were originally set to go into effect this weekend.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd blocked the pension law last month, saying that lawmakers had violated the state Constitution by not following proper procedure.

Bevin had asked Shepherd to amend his ruling to determine if the pension bill violated the state’s “inviolable contract” — a provision that protects state worker benefits from being tinkered with after they’ve been hired.

Chief Justice Won't Remove Judge in Pension Case

Jun 6, 2018
Public Domain

Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. has denied a request by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin to disqualify a judge from ruling on a lawsuit challenging the legality of a bill that overhauls the state's pension system.

Bevin signed a law earlier this year that would move all new teachers into a hybrid pension system. It would also change how current teachers use sick days to calculate their retirement benefits. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued to block the law, saying it was unconstitutional.

Ryland Barton

The head of Kentucky’s troubled pension system says there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but the light is a long way off. 

"For the past two years, we've been seeing increases in funding levels and investment returns. That's the light," said David Eager, executive director of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. "The distance is that it will take perhaps 35 years before we get out of this severely under-funded position."

Kentucky's pension plans for public employees face a combined $40 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Fate of Kentucky's New Pension Law to Be Decided by July

Apr 19, 2018
Ryland Barton

A Kentucky judge says he plans to decide by July 14 whether he will block a new law making changes to Kentucky's troubled pension plan from taking effect.

State lawmakers passed a law earlier this month making changes to the state's underfunded pension system. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued, saying it violates the state constitution and lawmakers broke the law when they passed it.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Matt Bevin says teachers are wrongfully attacking him for pushing to overhaul the state’s ailing pension systems, saying they’re either “ill-informed or willfully blind.”

The comment came in response to an angry group of educators who protested a state Senate committee’s passage of a bill that cuts benefits for retired public school teachers.

Though Bevin hasn’t explicitly endorsed the Senate plan, he said teachers should appreciate his approach to fix the public worker retirement programs.

Ryland Barton

Hundreds of teachers and other state employees packed the Kentucky Capitol on Wednesday as Republican lawmakers presented their new plan to overhaul the state’s ailing pension systems.

Supporters of the measure say it would save the state $4.8 billion over the next 30 years by requiring the legislature to put more money into the pension systems and reducing benefits to current and future retirees.

Thinkstock

A group of former and current public workers is suing three hedge funds for selling risky investments and overstating returns to the agency that manages Kentucky’s struggling pension fund.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks damages from hedge funds KKR Prisma, Blackstone and PAAMCO.

The workers allege the funds sold “unsuitable ‘black box’ investments” in 2011 with massive fees to the Kentucky Retirement Systems, according to a summary of the 124-page lawsuit filed Wednesday in Franklin County Circuit Court.

ThinkStock

A leader of Kentucky’s state senate says a “watered down” version of Gov. Matt Bevin’s pension proposal is being drafted but it would still shift future workers onto 401(k)-type retirement plans.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said he hopes the bill is revealed to the public before Christmas so it can be reviewed in advance of lawmakers’ return for the legislative session that begins on Jan. 2.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin says his proposal to overhaul Kentucky’s troubled pension systems has enough support to pass out of the state legislature, despite skepticism from lawmakers and intense opposition from state workers.

In an interview on the Leland Conway Show on WHAS in Louisville, Bevin said that when the proposal was unveiled the leaders of the state House and Senate “said straight up that they had the votes to pass that bill.”

Ryland Barton

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover won’t step down from his position after news reports that he secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a female employee.

According to the Associated Press, at a Kentucky Hospital Association event Friday morning, Hoover said he would “absolutely not” resign.

Republican members of the state House of Representatives are scheduled to meet Friday afternoon to discuss Hoover’s status and a massive pension overhaul proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin and the Republican leaders of the state legislature will unveil a proposal to fix Kentucky’s ailing pension systems Wednesday morning.

In a press release issued late Tuesday the governor’s office said that Bevin, House Speaker Jeff Hoover and Senate President Robert Stivers will present “a comprehensive plan to save Kentucky’s ailing public pension systems” in the State Capitol at 9 a.m.

“There have been hours and hours and hours of discussion among legislators and our administration in dialing this in. We are getting close,” Bevin said in a recorded statement.

KRS

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball filed legal papers today to overturn the state pension system’s payment of $50,000 to cover the cost of its ousted chairman’s lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bevin removed the former chairman, Louisville banker Tommy Elliott, from the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees in April — three years before his term expired. Elliott and another trustee sued the governor and KRS in Franklin County Circuit Court in June, seeking to restore Elliott to the board.

KRS paid their legal bill of $50,000, saying state law calls for the agency to pay for legal costs “arising from the performance” of trustee duties.

Ball, a Republican first-termer like Bevin, disagrees. In a written statement, she said the law applies to current members of the KRS board.

“Mr. Elliott is not a current member,” she said. “Whether the termination of Mr. Elliott was rightful or wrongful, he has, in fact, been terminated and therefore cannot use $50,000 of hard-earned money of Kentucky retired workers to pay for his legal challenge.”

Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The head of Kentucky’s Chamber of Commerce says he’s not giving up hopes that lawmakers will fix the state’s troubled pension systems.

Dave Adkisson says his group was disappointed that the recent General Assembly failed to pass both a $3.3 billion dollar bond issue to support the pension fund for teachers, and a bill mandating an independent study of that program.

Adkisson says legislators must eventually act in order to protect not only pensioners, but also the state’s bond rating.

“If Western Kentucky University is building a new building, if you’re building a new city hall, a new courthouse, a new highway, a new dormitory—those things can cost more because the bonds are lower-rates, and the interest rates are higher.”

The teacher’s pension system only has 53-percent of the money it needs to make future payouts to about 141,000 retired teachers. Earlier this year, KTRS officials said if bonds weren’t issued, the state’s required contributions to the system would double by 2026.

Adkisson, a former mayor of Owensboro, also said Tuesday that he hopes the state’s next governor will stick with changes made to Kentucky’s academic standards.

LRC Public Information

With two working days to go, Kentucky lawmakers still haven’t nailed down legislation to address the state’s growing heroin problem and it’s ailing teachers pension system.

On Friday, legislators from both chambers met for hours, trying to craft compromises on the bills.

A solution is starting to take shape to help shore up the teachers pension system, but the House and Senate remain divided on sentencing guidelines in the heroin bill.

Lawmakers have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to pass laws.

Heroin

Representatives and senators were still at odds Friday afternoon over needle exchanges, sentencing guidelines for heroin traffickers, and whether to include a “good Samaritan” clause that would provide immunity to those who report heroin overdoses.

Senate President Robert Stivers repeatedly suggested that the committee stop arguing and produce a bill that only includes points that lawmakers agree on: making overdose-reversing drug naloxone more available and increasing funding for treatment programs.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s $3.3 billion bonding bailout of the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System won’t pass this session, but a smaller study-and-finance package may still be in the works.

The retirement system only has 53 percent of the money it needs to make future payouts to more than 140,000 retired and active teachers in the state. The state’s required contributions to the system will double by 2026, according to KTRS officials.

On Tuesday, the Senate rejected $3.3 billion in bonding for the retirement system proposed by the House, replacing it with language that would require a committee of lawmakers and experts to identify problems in the pension system and come up with a report on possible solutions by December.

Now a conference committee comprised of representatives and senators will try to come up with a compromise to the two proposals.

Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg said the legislature was in a similar situation in 2013 when lawmakers addressed the cousin of the teacher retirement system—the Kentucky Retirement Systems.

“The Senate kind of wanted reforms but it didn’t want to address the pending issue of financial stability and money,” Stumbo said. “We want to make sure that the fund is financially sound, and we’re willing to listen to some of their suggestions on reforms if they’re willing to do something on the financial stability side.”

In that 2013 session, the legislature required the state to make recommended contributions to the KRS, created a separate pension fund for new hires and limited their benefits. The reforms have been considered successful by some, however KRS still only has 21 percent of the money it needs to make future payouts.

Stumbo said bonding should be included in a solution this year because interest rates are favorable. KTRS officials said the state can borrow money at a 4 percent interest rate and a 7 percent return from its investments in the system.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Manchester Republican, hasn’t said if he would consider bonding in a final bill. But he said he’s willing to compromise.

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