(FRANKFORT, Ky.) — The Bluegrass Institute released the bipartisan list of candidates for Kentucky House and Senate seats in the 2018 General Election who publicly and courageously expressed support prior to Election Day for making the commonwealth’s public pension benefits subject to the Open Records Act by signing the organization’s Pension Transparency Pledge.
“Taxpayers have access to the salaries of public workers and teachers as long as they remain on the job; however, the blinds are pulled the day they retire, hiding all pension benefits from the public purview,” Bluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters said. “Candidates willing to sign our pledge prior to Election Day are heroes of transparency who recognize that open government is more accountable and responsive government.”
Signers of the 84-word pledge vow to support “making the Kentucky Retirement Systems, Teachers’ Retirement System and Judicial Form Retirement System fully transparent, including requiring the disclosure of names, status and projected actual retirement beneﬁts and beneﬁt payments from the Kentucky Employees Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, State Police Retirement System, County Employees Retirement System and Judicial Retirement Plan.”
Record amounts of funding invested in Kentucky’s public pension system, including $3.3 billion – or nearly 15 percent – in the latest biennial General Fund budget passed during this year’s General Assembly.
“Increased funding demands greater transparency and accountability,” Waters said. “Making information about members’ benefits subject to open-records policies will offer relevant information needed to offer sound policies for properly and effectively reforming the retirement systems.”
Public-pension benefit information has been shielded from public purview since Gov. Wendell Ford’s administration pushed through KRS 61.661, which states: “Each current, former, or retired member’s account shall be administered in a confidential manner and specific data regarding a current, former, or retired member shall not be released for publication unless authorized by the member.”
Making Kentucky’s retirement benefits information would allow taxpayers and citizens see both the size and number of pension checks individual retirees are collecting, Waters said.
Legislators’ pension information was made subject to the Kentucky Open Records as part of the seven bills passed during the historic first week of the 2017 session of the General Assembly.