Kentucky Public Pensions Task Force will be held at 1 p.m. in Room 149 of the state Capitol Annex.
A series of reports by the Bluegrass Institute entitled Future Shock have highlighted Kentucky’s dire crisis in its public pension system, which has an unfunded liability of more than $33 billion. The choices for solving this problem are all unpleasant: higher taxes, robbing Peter to pay Paul — including crowding out other essential services such as education or public safety — or borrowing from the bond market, which would further damage the state’s already-weak credit rating by adding to its current $9 billion worth of bonded indebtedness.
To contact your legislator, call toll-free (800) 372-7181. You do not have to have to know the name of your legislator. You only need to give your name, address and question. It will then be forwarded to those legislators that represent your area of Kentucky.
To contact the Governor’s office, you will be transferred to a voice mail. All you need to do is leave your name, phone number and question.
(1) The institute estimates that switching state workers from the current Defined Benefit to a Defined Contribution plan, where employees contribute more to their retirement funding, could save an estimated $635,000 on each“mid-management” career employee.
QUESTION for Gov. Beshear and your legislators: Do you favor placing new state government hires on a Defined Contribution plan?
(2) The institute’s most recent report on the state’s public pension crisis focuses on legislators’ pensions. Legislators from both parties used House Bill 299 in 2005 to handsomely enrich their pensions through a practice known as “reciprocity,” which resulted in legislators knocking on the door of the Governor’s office to get plum jobs — not for their constituents but for themselves. Legislators have been more than willing to double — even triple — dip into the pensions systems while other public pension funds, including those of state workers, are in critical condition.
QUESTION for your legislators: Will you seek to repeal the practice of “reciprocity” that was put into action in 2005 by House Bill 299?
QUESTION for your legislators: Will you lead by example and forgo any public pension received for work as a part-time legislator or an appointed position?
(3) There are more than 1,700 organizations participating in the commonwealth’s ailing public pension system, including private organizations like the Kentucky Education Association, the state teachers’ union, and the Commonwealth Credit Union, which has an estimated 365 members participating in the state pension system.
QUESTION for your legislators: I understand that more than 1,700 organizations participate in Kentucky’s pension system, including private organizations like the Kentucky Education Association and the Commonwealth Credit Union. Will you act to pare back eligibility to only those organizations for which the public pension system originally was created?
(4) Currently, the state’s pension system is, by law, not transparent. While taxpayers can discover the amount of salaries of public workers, their pension information is protected from transparency by a law passed in 1972. (Read more about that in my recent column.)
QUESTION for both Gov. Beshear and your legislators : Will you support and actively work toward making our public pension system transparent?