FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Despite a GOP supermajority in both the Kentucky House and Senate, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has once again chided the General Assembly for not passing public pension reform legislation during the 2019 General Assembly, while at the same time passing other bills in haste.
During an interview Tuesday on WKCT radio in Bowling Green, Bevin said, regarding the more than 170 bills sent to him by lawmakers, “I’ve got some on my desk right now, I won’t mention specifically which ones, several people are asking me to veto because they didn’t read it before they voted for it. Now they’ve read it, or a constituent has read it and come to them, and realized they voted for something they didn’t understand. A legislature shouldn’t be doing that, frankly.”
He said while there were a lot of good bills to come out of the 2019 session, there was one that didn’t cross his desk and that’s the one dealing with the public pension crisis.
“We have one of the worst-funded pensions in America,” he said. “(These) 138 men and women are the only ones with the capacity to do something about it. They managed to get hundreds of things done, but not that,” Bevin said.
The governor disputed claims that since it wasn’t accomplished in last year’s 60-day session, it couldn’t happen in this year’s 30-day “short” session.
“We just need men and women who step up, have the intestinal fortitude and make hard decisions,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s politically popular, it’s the right thing to do, it’s the financially appropriate thing to do to keep our state from going bankrupt.”
Without action, Bevin said, quasi-governmental agencies and public universities will become insolvent. “If we have got to make hard decisions, it’s time for adults to step up and do exactly that.”
Bevin says don’t expect him to call another special session on the issue. “Not a chance,” he said. “This is like Charlie Brown and the football. I gave the very same legislature the chance to come back and pass a plan like they did with Senate Bill 151.”
That bill was unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Not because of the content, but the process used to pass it.
However, the General Assembly adjourned a hastily called special session after two days.
“They couldn’t do it,” Bevin said. “They said they didn’t have the time to do it in a week but would have the time to do it during the 30-day session.”
Bevin said lawmakers know what needs to be done. “It’s just hard to do it. They don’t want to do it. They’re worried about the political ramifications. We saw in November they don’t have any reason to fear. Because all these threats of ‘remembering in November’ and all this other hoo-hah that was thrown out there, we have supermajorities in the House and Senate after all the ‘remembering’ took place.”
Bevin said they must act when they return for the final day, March 28.
A request for comment from GOP legislative leadership on the governor’s comments has not been answered.