A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Letter to Editor: Larry Totten of KY Public Retirees says bold action needed for pension, revenues

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While the discussion in Frankfort lately is about pension reform, many believe the far more serious problem is the unfunded liability in each pension plan.

For years our state budgets purposely underfunded public pension plans; this money went towards other government functions. Past Legislatures and Governors got a “pass” on providing sufficient revenue to fund the whole of government properly. Creating a budget good enough to be passed and signed into law is an enormously complex task with untold compromises, however, good enough is no longer good enough.

There is a solution: find the additional revenue needed to deal with these unfunded liabilities and to properly fund state agencies and universities. Gutting state operations to fund public pensions today is as irresponsible as was the underfunding of pensions years ago. And just as the effects of pension underfunding are driving today’s budget, underfunding state government now will have serious consequences in the years to come.

State government without adequate revenue compromises its ability to provide the basic programs and services we expect. The natural growth in state revenues is insufficient and alternatives exist. Additional revenue can and must be raised through fair, equitable, and sustainable tax reform. Encourage your legislators to embrace the possibilities for bold action now when it is most needed. Our children and grandchildren deserve this.

Larry P. Totten
President
Kentucky Public Retirees

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