A wise teacher recently told me, “If you’re doing the right thing, you don’t hide it in a sewer bill.”
That’s what the General Assembly did when it turned an 11-page sewer bill into a 291-page pension bill and rammed it through both the House and Senate in just six hours, all without a single public comment, without giving legislators time to read it and without any analysis on whether it would even work.
Kentuckians were outraged.
Over 12,000 teachers, firefighters and other public servants marched on the Capitol because their government had tricked and betrayed them. After this march, the governor attacked these public servants, accusing them of causing the abuse or addiction of children.
But the people marched because they believe that the “sewer bill” broke the inviolable contract where they were promised that, if they spent decades of their lives teaching our children, protecting our families or serving the neglected, the state would provide them with a secure retirement.
They felt disrespected and tricked by the process. Because when the General Assembly tried to pass the legislation in a transparent manner — as Senate Bill 1 — the public defeated it.
Kentuckians deserve a government that acts in an open, honest and transparent way; and government must honor its promises and abide by its contracts, just like every Kentucky family does. And Kentuckians deserve a governor who doesn’t resort to name calling.
But our governor has called public servants ignorant, overpaid and even thugs. Now his office, in a recent op-ed, attacks me and tries to trick you. But we know the truth, that SB151:
▪ Will not “save” anything. In fact, one economist has estimated it will cost our retirement systems $3 billion more. Even the analysis provided by the governor through the retirement systems shows no real savings.
▪ Violates the inviolable contract in 15 different ways. It eliminates the use of sick days for numerous types of public servants, and cuts benefits to law enforcement that could mean over $1,000 per year.
▪ Eliminates any promised retirement to new teachers and other public servants. It allows your government — the one that already failed us — to break its word at any time.
The challenge to SB 151 does not threaten the pension or the phase-in of new pension costs for cities and counties. Those were provided through other bills that I have not challenged.
Put simply, the governor is name-calling and using fear tactics to divide us. But I know we are united.
Kentuckians deserve a government that doesn’t hide pension legislation in sewer bills and one that never shuts the people out of the process. The lawsuit I filed with the Kentucky Education Association and Fraternal Order of Police demands that type of government.
Andy Beshear is Kentucky’s attorney general.