The Bluegrass Institute, a free-market think tank, respectfully disagrees with the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees’ op-ed, “Ky. pension systems operate openly.”
Specifically, we take issue with the claim that the full disclosure of the names of those individuals who receive taxpayer-funded pensions along with the amounts of those pensions “is not publicly available pursuant to both state and federal privacy laws.”
The statement that federal privacy laws prohibit the disclosure of this information is completely false; several states make these details public.
Numerous bills requiring additional information regarding beneficiaries and their annual pensions have been introduced in Kentucky during the past decade.
Senate Bill 45, which was introduced during this year’s legislative session, would require all current recipients of a pension from the Kentucky Legislators’ Retirement Plan to make basic information regarding lawmakers’ benefits — specifically their names, annual pension amounts and benefits they anticipate or already receive from other KRS plans — available for public review.
This bill, along with others having similar intent, failed to become law.
The legislature allocated and Gov. Matt Bevin approved an additional $1 billion in the most recent budget to the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System — a significant commitment of taxpayer dollars directed to help stabilize one of the commonwealth’s large public-pension systems.
Such a sizable financial contribution, with additional funds sure to follow, makes it even more incumbent upon the General Assembly to make this information available.
Taxpayers have the right to ask questions and be assured that best practices are being implemented by all pension systems, including the legislators’ benefit plan. Only full transparency will relieve the doubts we have that such best practices are followed.
We believe that true and aggressive pension reform, along with the full implementation of industry best practices, will benefit not only Kentucky’s retirees but also its taxpayers and credit rating.
The status quo — no transparency — is unacceptable.
Aaron Ammerman, a Lexington financial analyst, is a board member of the Bluegrass Institute and a member of its pension reform team.
At issue: April 29 commentary from the Kentucky Retirement Systems, “Ky. pension systems operate openly”