Kentucky Educators Introduce Their Own Pension Solution
By Mike Perleberg
(Frankfort, Ky.) – Teachers in Kentucky are releasing their own pension reform plan that doesn’t touch retirement benefits, but would raise taxes.
Education groups in the state unveiled on Monday what they are calling the “Shared Responsibility Plan” that would allow current teachers to keep almost all of their pension and allow new teachers to get pretty much the same thing.
“The governor’s plan does many things that, by our estimation, will destroy public service as we know it,” Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association, said at a news conference. “The elimination of our inviolable contract. The removal of language that affords school employees paid sick days. The suspension of cost-of-living adjustments for retired teachers. The removal of disability and life insurance. And most of all, the switch from a dependable, reliable pension to an unreliable and very expensive defined-contribution plan.”
However, the teachers’ plan does rely on Kentucky lawmakers raising taxes to pay for the nearly $30 billion that the state owes for public retirements in the Commonwealth.
The plan also has the backing of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. Executive director Tom Shelton said Governor Matt Bevin’s office was dismissive of the proposal, but said legislative leaders have met with them and agreed to take the plan under advisement.
Bevin’s office countered Shelton’s statement, saying that the administration has met with educators several times over the past two months, but they never presented an alternate plan.
Bevin’s “Keeping the Promise” plan revealed last month would increase retirement contributions for current public employees while new employees would be put on a 401(k)-style plan.
State lawmakers are expected to return to the state capitol either during a fall special session or the regular session in early 2018 to deal with the pension crisis.