By Representative Dennis Keene – When teachers are hired in Kentucky, through an inviolable contract, they are guaranteed a pension benefit to last throughout their retirement years. In a last-minute, highjacked sewer bill, pension legislation was pushed through by the majority without anyone else, most importantly teachers, setting eyes on it. Among the devastating items in the bill, the inviolable contract was broken for new teachers. Without access to Social Security or their spouse’s Social Security, teacher rely on their state pension to live in retirement. Keep in mind, teachers pay approximately 12.9 percent of their salary toward their pension fund. With massive cuts in the “sewer bill”, Kentucky’s teachers would bear the brunt of the cost savings by reducing the teachers’ retirement benefits. This is unacceptable.
Now that Franklin Circuit Court has ruled the “sewer bill” on pensions to be unconstitutional, there is still reason for concern among teachers and state employees. The court determined the process unconstitutional not the legislation itself, so it is highly likely we will see another attempt to pass this harmful legislation when we convene in January.
The minority remains committed to finding a dedicated revenue stream to pay off the pension debt and continuing to require transparent accountability on pension fund investments. The teachers’ pension plan is on a path to solvency and our focus should be on the debt and allow changes made in recent years to strengthen the plan.