Pension crisis called Kentucky's "fiscal cliff" - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pension crisis called Kentucky's "fiscal cliff"

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's fiscal cliff. That's how the head of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce describes the state's pension crisis. Today, Republicans in the state Senate promised quick action to fix it.

Kentucky's business leaders say pension reform is the state's number one priority. But they say the General Assembly should fix it without taking more of your money.

Public employees from secretaries to state police are relying on state pensions for retirement. But the pension system is underfunded by some $30 billion.

State business leaders today called on lawmakers to fix the problem, now.

"If we don't fix this pension problem, we might have to rename our state. Instead of the Commonwealth of KY, it might have to become the Common-debt of KY because we'll be so deep in debt, we won't be able to dig our way out of it," said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

They say the pension crisis threatens to drain money that could go to other priorities, such as education. But they want the problem solved without raising taxes.

"Small business has been battered since the beginning of the Great Recession. I've talked to many, many of our members who have exhausted their own pension funds to keep their doors open," said Tom Underwood, director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Republican senate leaders also attended the news conference, and promised to pass a reform package quickly; a package that will likely include lowering costs, but not addressing the issue of long-term funding.

"That stops the digging. That stops the bleeding. It gets us to a floor, and then we can start filling up the hole," said Senate President Robert Stivers.

Noticeably absent from the news conference - any Democratic lawmakers.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has said in the past that he wants to deal with paying for increased pension contributions this year.

So, the Senate is poised to pass a pension reform bill as early as next week. The question is, can a Republican Senate and Democratic-controlled House agree on a solution?

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