ADJOURNED

The special session on the sewer pension bill is adjourned — less than 24 hours after it started.

The Kentucky Democratic Party has this to say:

We did it. We defeated Gov. Bevin’s crass attempt at cutting pension benefits in a hastily called special session.

You called your legislators, you signed petitions, and you showed up with teachers, police, firefighters and others to put an end to Governor Bevin’s 2018 temper tantrum. You made your voice heard, and the special session was adjourned within 24 hours.

Now, we have to take this momentum and show up again in November 2019 and give Bevin another loss, this time at the ballot box.

 

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Same Old Secrets

The Kentucky Democratic Party responds to the Bevin Special Session on pensions:

It’s truly unbelievable the lengths Matt Bevin and the Republicans in the General Assembly will go to take away people’s hard-earned retirements.

 

Yesterday, at 3:45, Governor Matt Bevin called a special session for 8 p.m. that night. That isn’t even enough notice for all of the legislators to travel to Frankfort!

 

And then, after they gaveled in, the Republicans started the same behind closed doors, secret legislating that got them in trouble in the first place.

 

In the middle of all the chaos, a reporter observed Democratic house leaders asking Speaker Osborne to at least be included in the conversation about what was happening. In his reply, Osborne let his true feelings shine through: “Who says we’re having a conversation?”

 

That’s not right. But the Republican Party of Kentucky, led by Governor Bevin, isn’t interested in doing what’s right. They’re just interested in showing everyone they can do what they want, when they want.

 

Bevin and his buddies are going to waste at least $300,000 trying to cut police, firefighter, teacher and other state employee retirement benefits in a special session. It’s wasteful on so many levels.

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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.

MORE>

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Bevin Bashes Teachers

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is again bashing teachers and the largest association representing them, the KEA, instead of taking responsibility for his own failures as Governor.

Here’s more from the Courier-Journal:

Bevin said on WKCT Radio, of Bowling Green, that his budget proposals have fully funded Kentucky’s pension systems but that his efforts to save the pensions have been muddled by the teachers’ union.

And a response from KEA:

“It’s true that the last two state budgets approved by the legislature funded the pension system.  But remember, the Governor vetoed the 2018-2020 budget, which included the pension funding appropriations for which he’s now taking credit. The provisions of his ironically titled “Keeping the Promise” proposal from last fall and SB1(2018) speak for themselves; KEA didn’t create those documents, the Governor and legislators sympathetic to his cause did. Those proposals created the “discord” to which he refers.  All state employees, including educators, are also taxpayers.  Every participant in any of Kentucky’s public pension systems pays twice: once as a direct, personal mandatory contribution to their individual account and again as a taxpayer …  So yes, KEA and other advocacy groups believe state employees and public school educator voices should be heard on policy issues that will affect the pension benefits they earn and pay for.”

The fact that Kentucky teachers and other public employees consistently pay into a system as both employees and taxpayers seems lost on Bevin. That those who pay into the system and are promised a return would want to have a say in any changes clearly is an affront to the paternalistic Bevin who seems to want to say, “Don’t worry, I’ll manage it… ”

Fortunately, educators and others are speaking up and speaking out. Most everyone agrees the pension system needs an element of reform — and that reform should be carried out in a transparent manner that is fair to all parties to the system.

MORE on the pension situation.

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