Politics & Government

Bevin to unveil pension reform plan Wednesday at 9 a.m. Lawmakers hint at details.

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Gov. Matt Bevin says he doesn't support legalizing recreational marijuana in Kentucky as a way to raise revenue to aid the state's ailing pension system.
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Gov. Matt Bevin says he doesn't support legalizing recreational marijuana in Kentucky as a way to raise revenue to aid the state's ailing pension system.

Just hours after he told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the broad details of a plan to fix Kentucky’s ailing public pension systems would be coming “very soon,” Gov. Matt Bevin got a little more specific: the plan will be announced Wednesday morning at 9 a.m..

Bevin, along with House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, will unveil their solution to Kentucky’s pension crisis in a news conference and on Facebook Live.

“We are getting close,” Bevin said in a Facebook video announcing the announcement. “Everybody wants a solution, we have come up with one that saves the pension system and keeps the pension promise. This is a bill that every single legislator will vote for if they’re dong what’s right for retirees and state workers.”

The announcement comes after weeks of closed-door meetings by top-ranking lawmakers in Frankfort as they’ve tried to settle on a plan to stabilize one of the worst-funded pension systems in the nation.

In his Facebook video, Bevin read a list of the advocacy groups his office has met with during the discussions.

One of those groups is Kentucky Government Retirees.

Jim Carroll, president of the group, said he hopes his group will get time to review the proposed changes before Bevin calls a special legislative session. He said his group will be looking to see if the plan has the potential of running afoul of the “inviolable contract” between pensioners and the state government.

“If all we get is an outline, it would be hard to evaluate what our position is on the bill,” Carroll said. “Because as they say, the devil is in the details.”

Bevin met with Republican legislative leaders on Sunday and Monday to tweak the proposal, according to state Rep. Bam Carney, R-Campbellsville.

Carney said some of Monday’s changes potentially swung votes in favor of the GOP plan, though he would not reveal those changes.

“I don’t want to ruin the surprise,” Carney quipped.

Republicans have remained tight-lipped about the changes they plan to make, though some details have leaked out, such as requiring 401(K)-style investment accounts for most new state workers.

Carney said lawmakers made progress on negotiations over a controversial proposal that would move teachers into a 401(K)-style plan after they have worked 27 years. Carney did not indicate what resolution was reached.

He also cast doubt on a proposal that would put teachers, who do not pay into the Social Security system, into a retirement plan that requires school boards to make their would-be Social Security payments.

“Not saying it’s totally off the table, but that’s not looking very favorable because of the cost that would be passed on to the districts,” Carney said.

Although Carney, who is a public school employee, gave limited details about the plan, he offered a full-throated endorsement of the discussed reform.

“From the teacher’s standpoint, I really think this proposal is very fair,” he said. “I think it meets all legal and moral responsibility, and I think it’s going to be one that most, obviously you’re never going to please everybody with an issue like this, but I think most teachers will see it as a good faith, legal effort to basically meet the needs that they were promised.”

Hoover has stressed that his members would like 30 days to study the proposal and hear from constituents before voting on the issue.

Bevin said Tuesday that lawmakers will have “plenty of time” to digest the proposal, though he did not specify what that means.

He also wouldn’t say when he plans to call lawmakers into a special legislative session to deal with the issue.

“When do I expect?” Bevin said. “As soon as I call it. I have a pretty good idea of when that would be. In fairness, again, I could throw out a date, but if we allow the door to be opened and the horse to run out before we’ve hooked up the cart, what good does that do?”

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics