'Still time' to act on pension reform, says Bevin


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Gov. Matt Bevin said there's still time for the General Assembly to enact pension reform legislation in a special session.

"We still have the entire month of December ahead of us," Bevin told Adam May of WHOP Radio in Hopkinsville on Thursday, "and there's time in that month to get this done. It is my expectation that our legislature will do so."

The governor said when he, Senate President Robert Stivers and then-House Speaker Jeff Hoover unveiled the framework of the bill in October, "We were doing it with the understanding that there were the votes in the House and Senate. I believe that's still the case."

During the interview, Bevin acknowledged there are people unhappy with the bill.

"There are people who want to pretend we don't have a financial problem. We have a huge financial problem. The [retirement] system's going to collapse, and the pension checks are going to stop coming if we don't fix it," he said. "For some that's acceptable, for me it isn't acceptable. It shouldn't be acceptable to the taxpayers of Kentucky."

Bevin explained how important pension reform is as he prepares a budget for the next two fiscal years, which will be voted on by state lawmakers during the 2018 session.

"They need to understand what they will have to pay for," he said. "One of the critical pieces of what they need to pay for is what they have or have not passed as far as pension reform. The more they don't make decisions on the pension front, or the more they give away or punt on the hard decisions, the more difficult it's going to be to pass a budget."

Bevin continued, "The cost of action is expensive. The cost of inaction has the potential to be far more expensive, and won't fix the problem itself, looming and getting larger."

The governor said he knows this is a difficult time. "This is when the big boys and big girls have to step up to the table as legislators, and make tough decisions."

PFM, the state's pension consultant, has ranked Kentucky 50th of all the states in terms of unfunded liability to the eight public pensions systems. The amount ranges from $33 billion to $84 billion, depending on whose figures are used.


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