Bevin promotes pension fix to Louisville business leaders, chall - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bevin promotes pension fix to Louisville business leaders, challenges his critics

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is challenging opponents of his pension reform plan to come up with something better.

Public school teachers, in particular, are loudly opposing Bevin's plan to deal with the estimated $60 billion pension shortfall, which includes putting new employees in a 401(k) style plan, and temporarily freezing teacher cost of living increases.

The head of the Kentucky Education Association said the plan will devastate public education.

“The KEA's response was, frankly, not that surprising, unfortunately,” Bevin told reporters following a speech at a Greater Louisville, Inc., business breakfast.

Bevin challenged his critics.

“What is their solution? What is their alternative? There isn't any,” he said.

During his speech, Bevin said if nothing is done, the pension system will begin to collapse within 5 years, and he urged business leaders to actively support his proposed fix.

“As business people, I would ask you to please encourage your legislators to vote for this,” he said.

Bevin did pick up an important endorsement when Greater Louisville, Inc. announced its support of the governor’s plan.

“I think the governor outlined the depth of the hole, and if we don't deal with this now, we will never deal with it,” said GLI President and CEO Kent Oyler.

Democratic Rep. Dean Schamore of Hardinsburg, who attended the breakfast, said he is still not convinced. He said switching employees to 401(k) style plans goes too far too fast.

“Maybe increase the retirement age for new hires, keep everything else like it is in the plan, fund them better,” Schamore told WDRB. “If we can’t find cuts in government, then maybe we look at different funding sources.”

But Bevin said small steps are not the solution to the problem.

“Simply pointing out that there is a problem, and wishing it would go away is not going to cut it. We've come up with a good, thoughtful, 30-year fix,” he said.

Bevin said a final bill should be released soon, and then he'll call a special session of the legislature.

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