Local and state reporters often depend on national media sources for insight into how the rest of America views Kentucky. One well-established practice is treating the word of some of those sources as gospel.
Stateline.org is one of those sources.
Kentucky reporters looking for national reaction to the our 2008 General Assembly may want to be careful with Stateline’s latest state-by-state legislative review.
The headline of this piece and the last two paragraphs bear little resemblance to reality. The only “rescuing” going on in last week’s special session was of Gov. Steve Beshear’s flagging political fortunes. Even he is starting to admit there is much more to do even as he takes a post-special session victory lap around the state. It is interesting no one has contradicted anything Sen. Tom Buford said in his floor speech explaining his “no” vote on HB 1, the only such vote in either chamber.
The statement the bill worked out “a timetable to fully fund the retirement system by 2025” is misleading as well, as the timetable would only fully fund the annual increase in liability in the year 2025. Not the whole thing. Under even the best of circumstances, the retirement system as impacted by HB 1 will be less fully funded in 2025 than it is now.
Further, the statement that the system “is under-funded because previous legislatures did not put enough money into it every year” ignores the part of the story that would truly allow reform to yield victory. If the writer is going to inject that much analysis into a “news” story, why not address the evolution in recent years toward a system of worker benefits the state can’t come close to affording? It’s like saying the reason all Kentuckians don’t drive around in Rolls Royces is that we don’t spend enough money on cars.
The lesson that has to be learned before anyone interested in the fiscal health of the state can claim victory is that we can’t spend what we don’t have. The Stateline article does nothing to move us toward that realization.