Kentucky House and Senate leaders say new pension bill will be tweaked
Rep. Dan Johnson of Mt. Washington is now the second Republican legislator to voice opposition to the proposal.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's Speaker of the House said Wednesday there will be changes to the pension bill being pushed by Gov. Matt Bevin as the bill faces opposition even from within the Republican Party.
Rep. Dan Johnson (R-Mt. Washington) said that he cannot vote for the bill “at this time.”
Johnson is the second Republican legislator to publicly oppose the bill. He said he has been contacted by thousands of teachers concerned that their benefits would be cut under the Bevin proposal.
“I think we need to hear from our teachers more,” Johnson said. “I know that (Bevin) has reached out to a lot of folks. He's a great guy, he's a great governor, a smart guy, but we went about this trying to push things way too quickly.”
House and Senate leaders said there will not be major changes, but there will be some tweaks to address concerns about the pension bill. Among them, a controversial 3 percent pay cut.
House Speaker Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown) was asked whether opposition, primarily from teachers, is causing some legislators to back-off their support of the bill.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily causing them to back off support," he said. "I think it’s causing them to say, ‘What we can do to address their concerns.'"
Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) said there are enough votes to pass the bill in the Senate but agreed some changes need to be made.
“We've got to decide how far we’re to go,” he said.
Thayer said there is little choice but to pass some version of this pension bill.
“We're looking at double-digit cuts across the board in government if we don't pass this bill,” Thayer said.
Johnson acknowledged something must be done, but he wants to slow down the process. He said Bevin should not call a special session of the legislature.
“I think we need to quick trying to push this thing so quickly ... wait until the regular session,” Johnson said.
That likely will not happen. Both Hoover and Thayer expect the governor to call lawmakers to the Capitol before the end of the year.
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