ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Matt Bevin said on a talk radio show in Huntington that a special session that he quickly called on Monday afternoon was imperative because of current lawmakers’ familiarity with the pension reform issues and finances in Kentucky.
He said that the new House bills proposed add nothing new from Senate Bill 151, so there should be less discussion and questions among legislatures.
“It’s nothing that hasn’t been debated ad nauseum in the 2018 legislative session,” Bevin said on the Tom Roten Morning Show on WVHU 800 AM Tuesday morning.
House Bill 1 and House Bill 2 were introduced late Monday night by Rep. Jerry Miller, a Louisville Republican.
“Senate Bill 151, which they already passed, is broken into two pieces with many parts removed, some of the most contentious parts, the parts that judges ruled against whether they should have or not,” Bevin said. “The logic is we need to start with the basics.”
Breaking the previous pension overhaul into two pieces made sense, he said.
“If we don’t have the ability to pass comprehensive pension reform bill in one fell swoop, we will eat this apple one bite at a time.”
Bevin said House Bill 1 only affects new hires and House Bill 2 has only one issue that applies to current employees starting in 2024 concerning what Bevin called a “multiplier by which they can spike their pension.” Ending that is an idea that came from school superintendents and one that has been discussed in the legislature, he said.
If they waited to address the pension reform in the 2019 General Assembly session, which begins Jan. 8, there would be new faces who wouldn’t know as much about the pension reform plan that the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously struck down four days ago for procedural problems, he said.
“There’s nothing new that hasn’t been heard of, talked about or discussed by these particular members,” Bevin said. “You have to realize some of these members too won’t be coming back. Some are retiring and some lost their seats (in election). We start next year it’s a whole new group of people, not all who have been through this discussion month after month after month.”
The idea of calling the special session on Monday was that it could be completed before Christmas, he said.
“They could be done on Friday, that was the whole purpose of starting on Monday to get the first reading yesterday (Monday), second today (Tuesday), and third in the House Wednesday. The Senate gets its first Wednesday, second (reading) Thursday and third (reading) and vote on Friday. It could be done in that short order.”
House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, called the special session “appalling” and Attorney General Andy Beshear said bringing lawmakers back during this time of year was cruel.
Bevin said Adkins, a gubernatorial candidate, hasn’t offered a solution to the problem.
“Here’s what’s crazy. This is a guy who literally thinks he should be governor, has filed to become governor and is running to become governor,” Bevin said. “He thinks it’s appalling that we are trying to save a failing pension system, but he doesn’t have a solution.
“We’re dealing with people so far removed from financial reality. They do not understand what’s at stake.”
Bevin said the solvency of Kentucky, the credit ratings of Kentucky, debt issuances of Kentucky, the bankers, business people and taxpayers are under financial assault if the pension system fails.
“We have some of our leading Democrats Whistlin’ Dixie here past the graveyard and pretending that there is no problem and it’s a shame.”
Bevin said legislatures are the only ones with the power to begin to fix the pension problems and he hopes they do.