Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Does This Sound Familiar? “State leaders say it's critical to fix the pension crisis, which ranks as one of the worst in the U.S.”




“More than 20 Kentucky counties had schools close Friday after the state Legislature approved changes to their pension on [March 30].  Educators, who are furious over the pension issue, called out of work sick or requested substitutes in protest.

“The bill, which overhauls the state's pension, passed mostly on party lines and heads to Gov. Matt Bevin, who supports reforming the system. State leaders say it's critical to fix the pension crisis, which ranks as one of the worst in the US.

“Kentucky teachers have opposed changes to their pension, which was in Senate Bill 1 that proposed reducing benefits. But in a surprise move, elements of Senate Bill 1 were tucked into another bill, Senate Bill 151, which had been about sewage services, reported several CNN affiliates in Kentucky. And the new, nearly 300-page Senate Bill 151 passed both the state House and Senate on Thursday to the chagrin of teachers and retirees who crammed into the Capitol. ‘Just vote no!’ they chanted Thursday. ‘Vote them out!’

“The Kentucky Education Association, which represents teachers and other education professionals, slammed the maneuver as a ‘classic legislative bait and switch...’

“A summary of the bill has the following, according to CNN affiliate WKYT…

“Kentucky Republicans tweeted a summary of the bill. Republican lawmakers attempted to allay concerns, saying that the bill is a compromise to save the state's pension… The bill passed the House in a 49-46 vote and the Senate by 22-15, according to CNN affiliate WLKY. There are 10 veto days following the passage of the bill for Bevin to take action on the legislation. Bevin, a Republican praised the lawmakers who supported the bill for not ‘kicking the pension problem down the road…’

Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
“Inspired by the West Virginia strike, in which teachers went on strike and won concessions, teachers are similarly organizing and publicly pressuring their state lawmakers in states including Oklahoma and Arizona.” 

For the full report by CNN's Amir Vera, Marlena Baldacci and Dave Alsup, click here. 


Commentary:

In Kentucky, the legal basis for protection of public pension rights under state laws is contractual, like most other states. Kentucky’s pension accruals are protected, but past only and not the future. In Illinois, accruals are protected past and future; the legal basis that safeguards pension accruals is the Constitution of the State of Illinois. Two other states—New York and Alaska—are protected past and future by their state constitution. Four other states’ pension accruals—Arizona, Michigan, Louisiana and Hawaii—are protected past only by their state constitution.



4 comments:

  1. "...In Kentucky, teachers earn an average salary of $52,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, compared with $45,000 in Oklahoma. But teachers there, thousands of whom are picketing the Capitol during their spring break, are protesting a pension reform bill that abruptly passed the State House and Senate last week. If Gov. Matt Bevin signs it into law, it will phase out defined-benefit pensions for teachers and replace them with hybrid retirement plans that combine features of a traditional pension with features of the 401(k) accounts used in the private sector. Teachers in the state are not eligible for Social Security benefits..." (New York Times).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Of course, in states like Kentucky and Illinois, the state legislatures failed to make their required contributions to the pension systems; thus, the unfunded liability grew exponentially because of the state’s inconsistent funding methods, unreliable accounting methods, and “special deals” made by legislators that were to be funded with future monies.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good Jobs First found that the annual cost of funding public pensions in Kentucky "is only two-thirds of the cost of corporate giveaways in the state. What is even more revealing, however, is a report from the Office of the State Budget Director that found Kentucky actually gives away more in tax breaks each year than it collects in tax revenue.

    “Let that sink in for a moment. Kentucky’s tax code is so full of loopholes that the state actually loses more money than it collects. If Kentucky needs more money to fund its public services, then fixing its porous tax code seems like a pretty obvious place to start."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sadly history repeating itself. Loss of pensions hurts current and future retirees. As my daughter-in-law stated on Easter we're screwed.

    ReplyDelete