Politics & Government

Retiring West Liberty lawmaker takes economic development post at Morehead State

John Will Stacy,
has served in the state House since 1993.
John Will Stacy, has served in the state House since 1993.

Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, has accepted a job with his alma mater, Morehead State University.

Stacy will become regional economic development director on Monday, according to a news release from Morehead State.

He will be based at the school's West Liberty campus and make a yearly salary of $64,333.

Stacy, who is retiring from the legislature at the end of year after serving 11 terms, said he was excited to begin this new chapter .

"I look forward to the challenge of this new position and to help with the SOAR initiative in east Kentucky," he said in the release.

Stacy will provide leadership and facilitation of community and economic development initiatives in 54 Appalachian Regional Commission counties; work with the area development districts; and work with organizations such as Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development, and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., and other leading development nonprofits.

He also will aid Morehead in developing a strategy to address key issues from the Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, report, which is aimed at revitalizing Eastern Kentucky.

"After completing a comprehensive search, we are pleased to have a person with John Will Stacy's knowledge and skill accept this position," said J. Marshall, executive director of the center for regional engagement. "He will be a tremendous asset to our outreach efforts due to his understanding of the Appalachian people and the challenges we face."

Stacy is a long-time member of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, which shapes the state budget, including funding for the state's public universities and approval of capital projects.

The new job comes with a possible retirement benefit increase as well. Thanks to a 2005 law passed by the General Assembly, retired legislators who move to jobs in other branches of government can be eligible for pensions from both the legislative and executive branch based on the higher salary from either job.

In other words, Stacy, who was in the legislature for 22 years, could retire from his Morehead job after three years and draw pensions from the legislative retirement system, and in Morehead's case, the Kentucky Teacher's Retirement System, based on the last three years of his salary at Morehead.

In 1998, Stacy took a $48,000 job as a fundraiser for Morehead at the same time he was chairman of the House education budget subcommittee, which gave him some oversight of higher education funding.

According to a 2008 Herald-Leader story about legislative conflicts of interest, Morehead's president ended Stacy's contract in 2001. Stacy then put restrictive language into the state budget that limited Morehead's use of its funds and campus facilities. School officials called it a vendetta.

Ultimately, Morehead's president resigned and was replaced. The restrictions were lifted.