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Education Groups Unveil Alternate Pension Proposal

Josh James
Kentucky Association of School Superintendents director Tom Shelton addresses an audience about pensions at Woodford County High School on November 6, 2017.

Kentucky education groups are advocating an alternative pension reform program they say will ease the financial pressure on the state while maintaining defined benefits plans for future teachers.

Education groups made a public push Monday at Woodford County High School for a plan they’ve dubbed “Shared Responsibility” – which creates a new tier of benefits for new employees that Kentucky Association of School Superintendents head Tom Shelton says will only require a defined contribution from the state.

"By creating a new tier of benefits that raises the retirement requirements and takes the risk off the state, then what we're able to do is protect the benefits for our current retires and minimize any cost impact on the state," he said.

Speakers including advocates, superintendents, and a teacher argued by keeping the current pension model, the state will both recruit better teachers and avoid a costly legal battle over provisions in the GOP plan they say could be illegal.

House Democratic minority leader Rocky Adkins said he sees the plan as the starting point for more bipartisan pension talks as the GOP bill starts to show cracks. 

"This is what we've been pushing for is to make sure that we don't pass a pension bill that's going to have a devastating impact on public education, and I think this bill does many things to keep that from happening," he said.

Criticism of the Republican measure, coupled with the recent resignation of House Speaker Jeff Hoover, has led to questions about the viability of Gov. Bevin’s special session. 

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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