Pension Relief Bill Heads To Bevin's Desk (Updated)
Gov. Matt Bevin’s pension relief bill won final passage in the Kentucky Senate Wednesday, though the measure is expected to draw a legal challenge.
Proponents paint the bill as an imperfect but much-needed relief package aimed at regional universities, mental health centers, and other quasi-governmental agencies, but opponents, including Sen. Morgan McGarvey, say the bill fails completely.
"We have spent as decade shortchanging our public institutions and now, instead of beginning to repair the damage, we tell them to freeze their custodian's retirement checks," the Democratic leader told colleagues. "Add up all of our public universities, our rape crisis centers, our mental health institutions and the sum of this bill is a sell-out of our responsibilities."
Democrats have argued the bill also lays the groundwork for the further erosion of the state’s struggling retirement system by preparing a path for entities to exit and by not directly addressing the unfunded liability.
But Republican leader Damon Thayer took umbrage at the claim, responding, "this issue that has arisen this week from members of the minority party, that this is an effort to collapse the entire pension system, is so far beyond the pale it's not even believeable. It's a red herring, a ruse, something to get the attention of groups not even affected by this bill."
The measure now headed for Gov. Matt Bevin's desk replaces a similar bill that Bevin vetoed in April after the legislature adjourned from their regular session.
Update (2 p.m.): Gov. Matt Bevin has signed House Bill 1. He released the following signing statement:
"We are grateful for the diligent work of fiscally responsible House and Senate members who came together to pass HB1. I applaud their dedication to delivering much-needed financial relief for Kentucky's quasi-governmental agencies and regional universities. This legislation provides a viable path forward for our mental health agencies, rape crisis centers, local health departments, and other community agencies whose dedicated employees provide critical services to citizens across the Commonwealth. While we have much work yet to do in addressing our $60 billion public pension crisis, HB 1 represents a positive step forward. I am confident that with continued collaboration and hard work, we can save our pension system and preserve it for the thousands of hardworking men and women whose financial futures depend on it.”