House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover attempts to use teacher pension reform as an argument in favor of electing a GOP majority to the Kentucky House.
In an article for the Courier-Journal, he points out:
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report issued by KTRS this past December shows the system had approximately 75,000 active and 47,000 retired members. The report states the funding level this past year was 51.9 percent, with $13.85 billion in unfunded liabilities. According to data released by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce this past week, a key reason for this underfunding is actual employer contributions to the system have been significantly less than the amount required to sustain financial obligations.
Hoover is right to note that the teacher pension system may soon face problems. Not being able to pay benefits promised and owed would be devastating.
And, in his article, he’s simply calling for the creation of a task force to examine the issue and make recommendations.
That, too, seems reasonable.
Fixing the pension problem won’t be easy and it will take political courage.
But, let’s be clear: Teachers are not the ones who failed to properly fund the pension system for years and years. Teachers did not make promises they couldn’t meet. Teachers should not bear the brunt of any proposed pension reform. The budget in Kentucky should not be balanced on the backs of Kentucky’s teachers.
Comprehensive reform that ensures the teacher pension fund is able to meet future obligations must include proper funding of those obligations. That will mean that new revenue must go to the fund OR that other programs are cut to make room in the budget for teacher pensions.
Kentucky made a promise to its teachers. Kentucky’s political leadership should keep that promise.
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