A bill that would reveal how much Kentucky legislators collect from public pensions is headed toward its final vote in the General Assembly.
The House State Government Committee on Wednesday voted 19-2 in favor of Senate Bill 45 and sent it to the full House. The bill would require disclosure, under the Kentucky Open Records Act, of public retirement benefits information for current and former members of the General Assembly. This would include their legislative pensions and any other benefits they might draw from the systems for state workers and schoolteachers.
Unlike some other states, Kentucky prohibits the disclosure of information about individual public pensions. But an exception should be made for legislators who set state policy, said Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, the sponsor of SB 45.
Most legislators don’t draw unusually large pensions, McDaniel said. But there are “some abuses of the system,” he said, and some longtime lawmakers have inflated their legislative pensions by taking short-term jobs at high salaries in the executive or judicial branches.
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“I think that people have a right to know,” McDaniel said. “Our dedicated public workers, our state police and our schoolteachers have a right to know, as do our taxpayers, whether we’ve got any kind of a conflict or whether we’ll personally benefit.”
Several Democratic committee members raised objections to McDaniel’s bill. Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who ultimately voted against it, said he considered it an invasion of a public servant’s privacy.
The legislative pension system has 85 percent of the assets it’s expected to need to meet future liabilities, compared to 17 percent for the primary pension fund for state workers at Kentucky Retirement Systems.