Kentucky's legislative leaders have passed two bills to shore up the state's underfunded pension systems, effectively staving off a special session on the issue.
The new plan would reduce a personal tax credit of $20 to $10, generating roughly 33 million in revenue that would go to General Fund, but lawmakers would use for pensions. It would also use revenue from technical changes in the state's tax code, as well as money from federal tax changes.
Overall, the plan would generate $96 million in the 2015 fiscal year and $100 million in 2016 fiscal year.
In a news conference with legislative leaders after the bill passed, Governor Steve Beshear said the process will work as a template for other states.
"This is a good solution to a thorny problem. A solution that other states around the country will be looking at as they look at options to solve their own crises," Beshear said.
State leaders are still working to find solutions to the Kentucky's troubled pension system —but he's not promising a deal the time the General Assembly regular session ends next week, Gov. Steve Beshear said on Monday.
Beshear has mediated sessions between House and Senate leadership on reforming the pension systems and how to fund them, after the chambers came to an impasse on the issue.
Those conversations have continued since the General Assembly adjourned last week for the veto period, but Beshear said he can't predict whether legislators will strike a deal before the 2013 session ends.
"One can never predict what will happen in the end, particularly in a legislative session but I feel good about where we are right now," Beshear said.
If lawmakers can't reach a deal, a special session to deal with the issue is likely.
A Warren County lawmaker says he feels good about the chances of a pension reform measure being finalized by the end of the legislative session. Republican Representative Jim DeCesare told WKU Public Radio he doesn’t think there are many differences remaining between the two parties.
“It was my understanding that when we left there both sides weren’t that far apart," said the Rockfield lawmaker. "We just have some details to work out on three or four main issues. And the hope is that they can come to some sort of a conclusion and some kind of result that everybody can live with.”
DeCesare said pension reform is “without a doubt” the single most important issue lawmakers need to hammer out before the session ends. A bill passed by the Republican-led Senate creates 401-K like retirement plan for new government workers, while a House-passed bill would use money raised from the lottery and horse tracks to fund the state’s pension contributions.
Most Kentucky lawmakers are back home for the next week-and-a-half, while some conferees remain at the state capitol trying to work out differences between the House and Senate. All lawmakers will return to Frankfort March 25-26 for the final two days of the regular session.
Two priorities of Kentucky lawmakers will spill over to the so-called veto period of the 2013 legislative sessions after the issues could not be resolved by the end of Tuesday.
Legislators were unable to compromise on pension reform and the military electronic voting bill before both legislative chambers adjourned until March 25.
Legislative leaders said talks on pension reforms are still progressing and that a conference committee has been set up to find a compromise on the military voting bill. Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Steve Beshear said a special session appeared more likely because the General Assembly appeared to lack agreement on reforms to the state's underfunded pension system.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, said the talks on pension reform have been encouraging despite the lack of a deal before legislators adjourned Tuesday.
With no deal and time running out, a special session is becoming more likely for Kentucky lawmakers to reform the underfunded pension programs for state employees, Gov. Steve Beshear said on Tuesday.
It's unlikely that the General Assembly will address pension reform before legislators leave Frankfort after Tuesday for a brief period called the veto break, Beshear said. Legislators have
Two pensions bills aimed at reforming Kentucky's underfunded pension system havebeen locked in a stalemate between both chambers of the state legislature, with both refusing to accept a bill based on procedural technicalities.
While legislative leaders have met routinely since last week on the pension issue, Beshear said they are still far apart—meaning a special session is becoming more likely.