Pension Surprises

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A few last-minute surprises popped up early Monday evening even before “Kentucky Tonight” guests had settled into their seats in Studio A. The guests were there to discuss the state‚Äôs public employee pension problems and the reform measures slowly making their way through the General Assembly.

The host was caught off-guard too.

I had asked Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown; State Representative Brent Yonts of Greenville, chair of the House State Government Committee; Bryan Sunderland, vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; and Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and a member of the Kentucky Public Pension Coalition to come to the “Kentucky Tonight” table to discuss Senate Bill 2, which passed out the Senate. The bill was assigned to Chairman Yonts’ committee in the House.

Late Monday afternoon, Rep. Yonts met with Democrats in the House to explain the changes he intended to introduce which would dramatically alter the pension bill passed by the Senate.
Around 7 PM last night, House Speaker Greg Stumbo explained to several members of the press corps a proposal to fund the pension system using an expansion of Kentucky lottery games to be offered to players.

All of this was happening as our guests were getting their microphones attached and last- minute adjustments were being made before we began our broadcast conversation on KET.
What follows demonstrates that any solution to resolve pension reform in this session of the 2013 legislature may be difficult.

In this clip, Yonts and Thayer disagree over the changes being made to Senate Bill 2:

Later, “Kentucky Tonight” panelists Bailey and Sunderland debated the differences in a hybrid retirement plan and a traditional defined benefit offering which is available to public employees today.

The House is expected to act on pensions this week; the bill will then be reassigned to the state Senate for action.

With only a few days remaining in the session, no one is really sure what might be the final resolution of this serious problem facing the Commonwealth.

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