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Ky. Lawmakers Continue Work on Pension Reform, Compromise Appears Uncertain

FRANKFORT, Ky. - With only one day left in this year's legislative session, Kentucky House leaders are hopeful they have a deal to up shore up the state's underfunded pension system. But there may not be time to get it through the legislature.

"It was a long day and obviously everybody tried hard and I don't know if we're going to get a pension bill or not," House Speaker Greg Stumbo said late Monday.

House Democrats are building support for a proposal that uses technical wrangling of revenue sources to cut some taxes while raising other funds to pay for pension reform.

The current proposal would cut the gasoline tax by one cent, resulting in a loss of funds for the state road fund. To offset that, House leaders put a new credit for used car trade-ins into the plan and got the governor to promise to replenish the road fund with any excess money. The plan also changes income tax code slightly, eliminating one deduction while raising the total dollar amount for others.  

The changes could raise an additional $110 million in revenue a year for the state, which would go to pensions. 

The House Democratic caucus approved the proposal late Monday, but Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer says Senate leadership has not seen it.

"I'm not going to comment on a proposal I haven't seen," says Thayer. "And [one] that we haven't had the time to review. We have been working here for three weeks with Governor Beshear."

The plan does not sit well with a coalition set up to help protect public pensioners and it's not clear if there are enough votes to pass the measure before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

A special session may be called later in the year to deal with pension reform.