Politics & Government

Retired teachers and pension system will benefit from state budget surplus

A $194.5 million surplus in Kentucky’s budget will help retired teachers’ health insurance plan and the state pension system, Gov. Matt Bevin said Thursday.

Bevin announced in a release that Kentucky ended fiscal year 2019 on June 30 with record high revenues and that the budget bill stipulates additional funds be used to pay necessary government expenditures and provide more money for the Retired Teachers’s Health Insurance Plan and the Kentucky pension.

The Bevin administration said $70 million of the surplus will got to the Retired Teacher’s Health Insurance Fund and about $59.5 million to the Kentucky Employment Retirement Fund.

Any financial boost for the pension system would help, but it still has about $43 billion in unfunded liabilities.

The administration said the state General Fund, which pays for most state programs, closed the year with $11.4 billion in revenue, which is about a 5.1 percent increase over the collections the previous year. It was the ninth consecutive year General Fund receipts rose.

“Our strong finish this fiscal year shows that Kentucky’s forward-thinking economic policies are working for Kentuckians,” said Bevin.. “This is the kind of positive, incremental growth that will sustain the commonwealth and allow us to continue providing vital public services while meeting our obligations to state employees by fully funding our pension systems.”

Bevin, a Republican who is running for re-election against Democratic nominee Andy Beshear, said he was “grateful with our House and Senate leadership, as we work together to continue growing our economy and strengthening Kentucky’s financial foundation. We are just getting started.”

Budget director John Chilton attributed the revenue growth to economic development efforts and tax reform policies that broadened the tax base, lowered the top income tax rates and modernized the tax rate structure.

House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said, “Everybody ought to be happy” about the revenue growth. He noted that the budget bill legislators produced mandated where any extra money would go.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the revenue surplus, coupled with a strong economy, “is undeniable evidence that the future of Kentucky continues to move in the right direction.”

House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said the surplus is “evidence that the policies we adopted are paying off for the commonwealth.”

He also said the state Road Fund for fiscal year 2019 totaled $1.56 billion, an increase of 3.6 percent from the previous fiscal year.

Total receipts were $59.5million more than expected. Road Fund collections have increased in each of the last three years.

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