A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Matt Bevin says pension bill is ‘getting done’ as special session looms sometime in May

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Matt Bevin says the legislation is ready and that a special session will be called sometime in May to provide relief for regional universities and other quasi-governmental agencies who face a huge jump in pension costs July 1.

Bevin spoke this week with reporters on the status of proposed legislation.

“The bill is written, the bill has been scored. I met with all the university presidents earlier today. They met with members of our team, Kentucky Retirement Systems and Budget Director John Chilton for over an hour and a half, talking about all the details of this,” he said.

Gov. Matt Bevin says the pension bill is in good shape and a special session will be called in May. (Photo by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today)

Lawmakers are also learning details of the plan, according to Bevin. “By Wednesday afternoon, every single member of the House and Senate, in both parties, will be well aware of what is in this bill. It’s getting done.”

He said his proposal will resemble House Bill 358, which he vetoed after the 2019 General Assembly adjourned. “It was a good bill and a well-intended bill, that provided the relief that was needed. But it had parts in it that were illegal.”

That included language that would have stopped checks going to retirees whose agencies were in arrears to the pension systems, as well as incorrect dates, Bevin said. “It was just quickly and sloppily put together. I don’t have the ability to fix that with line-item veto power, so the only way to fix it was to re-do the bill.

“We’ve tightened it up and made it better,” he continued. “It’s a slimmer and easier to follow bill. It provides more latitude and options to the quasis themselves, so they will have more choice in what their future and their employees look like.”

Bevin indicated he expects to call to call the special session this month.

“Probably not Monday, because we want to give people time to digest it,” he said. If we’re not careful, we’re running up against graduations, Memorial Day, people’s vacations and a lot of things. So why muddy the waters for no good reason? The intent would be to do it sooner than not, in the month of May.”

Bevin has also maintained that the pension bill will be the only item on the call for the special session.

The unfunded liability of all the public pension systems in Kentucky, which have nearly 380,000 members, both employees and retirees, is estimated to be at least $43 billion.

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