Another Bad Move from Bevin

Just days after the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the sewer-pension bill hastily passed in the waning hours of the 2018 legislative session violated procedure  and therefore could not be implemented, Governor Matt Bevin gave four hours advance notice of a special legislative session to deal with the pension issue.

The Lexington Herald-Leader has more:

In a surprise move Monday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called a special legislative session to deal with the state’s struggling pension systems. He made the announcement just before 4 p.m. Monday, saying the session would begin four hours later at 8 p.m.

“I am going to use the powers that have been granted to me to call the legislature into special session that will be effective tonight at eight o’clock,” Bevin said in a brief statement. “They will be coming in.”

Some speculate legislative leaders are poised to act on the now defunct sewer bill — this time, following proper procedure and giving the measure the required number of public hearings.

Bevin faces re-election in 2019 and is looking at an array of strong Democratic opponents. Moving on the pension bill is likely a way to bolster his support among his base.

Groups of teachers, who organized protests during pension debates earlier this year are already pledging to be on hand tonight when the legislature begins session.

Due to the incredibly short notice, it is likely lawmakers far from Frankfort will have difficulty making the opening gavel.

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Unanimous!

In a 7-0 decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court today struck down the “sewer pension bill” passed at the urging of embattled Governor Matt Bevin during the last legislative session.

The plan, which broke the promise made to current and retired teachers and other public employees, was found to be in violation of procedure demanding adequate public notice and a specific number of readings before a vote.

Adam Beam from the AP has more:

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that made changes to the state’s struggling public pension system eight months after it prompted thousands of teachers to protest, closing schools across the state.

In April, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed a law that moved all new teacher hires into a hybrid pension plan. The law also restricted how teachers used sick days to calculate their retirement benefits and changed how the state pays off its pension debt.

Facing a tight deadline, state lawmakers introduced and passed the bill in one day near the end of the 2018 legislative session. The bill moved so quickly that a copy was not available for the public to read until the day after lawmakers had voted on it.

Teachers were outraged, thousands marched on the Capitol and schools in more than 30 districts closed. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued, arguing the legislature violated the state Constitution by not voting on the proposal three times over three separate days. Bevin argued lawmakers did not need to do that because they had substituted the bill for an unrelated one that already had the required votes.

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Pension Reform in 2015?

Kentucky legislators will consider a number of plans designed to reform the state’s pension plan for teachers, the Courier-Journal reports.

The Kentucky General Assembly has been tinkering with the pension plan in recent years in an attempt to shore up unfunded liabilities.

Proposals this year would seek to adjust future benefit payments and decrease cost-of-living increases.

The shortfall is a result of lack of proper funding over time by the General Assembly.

Some proposals would continue the practice of using borrowing through bonds to fund pension obligations, but it is likely that changes to benefits will also be required.

According to the report, a number of lawmakers oppose additional bonds to fund the system and are looking at more significant reform.

From the story:

So far, legislators have pre-filed at least four bills that would alter some aspect of teacher pensions, and leaders from both the House and Senate say any bonding needs to be paired with reforms.

“There is not a lot of enthusiasm for borrowing more money to pay off the KTRS debt without structural changes accompanying that effort,” said Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown.

 

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The Pension Petition

The Jefferson County Teachers Association is out with a Change.org petition calling on Governor Beshear and the Kentucky General Assembly to fully fund the pension fund (which they haven’t done since 2008).

As of this posting, they already have over 9000 signatures.

No doubt, many teachers and their families will be joining the fight soon.

For more on Kentucky education politics and policy, follow us @KYEdReport