Politics & Government

Is the long-awaited pension bill coming next week? ‘If there are no glitches.’

Legislative leaders said Friday the long-awaited public pension bill will be unveiled Tuesday.

House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne and Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said the much-anticipated legislation will be introduced Tuesday, which will be the 33rd day of this year’s 60-day, law-making session. It will affect state public employees and retirees.

The leaders are still waiting to decide if the bill will be filed in the House or Senate. Osborne, R-Prospect, said it may be filed in both.

He also said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and he gave Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday a basic outline of the legislation.

“He was glad that we were able to finally get something moving. I believe he’s supportive.”

Bevin had wanted to call a special legislative session last fall to address the state’s financially strapped public pension systems. But it did not materialize.

The governor and legislative leaders had hoped to address pension reform early in this year’s session but it now won’t be happening until the last part of the session.

Thayer, R-Georgetown, said the revised bill will be made public Tuesday “if there are no glitches.”

He said he’s “pretty positive” the House and Senate will approve the bill and is hopeful the governor will sign off on the bill.

“It will put us on a path to sustainability and will reduce the risk on the taxpayers while continuing to provide a pension system for our current retirees and current employees.”

A few details of the bill emerged this week. Most notable among them was that no current or future Kentucky employee will be shifted into a mandatory 401(k)-like retirement system. Bevin and legislative leaders last October presented a plan calling for that and it was met with strong opposition. Stivers said this week that the move would cost too much money.

Also, new teachers will have a choice of several retirement plan options, including the traditional defined-benefit plan now in effect or a “hybrid cash balance plan, which is less generous than a traditional defined-benefits pension but offers more retirement security than a 401(k) -style defined contribution account.

The revised bill also will not contain a five-year cost-of-living adjustment freeze for retired teachers. The proposal last Octoer would have frozen for five years annual 1.5 percent cost of living increases in teachers’ retirement benefits.

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