KY lawmakers expect pension reform bill to be filed within days
Bill expected to look different that Gov. Matt Bevin's original proposal
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One week into the 2018 legislative session, there is still no sign of a pension reform bill, but lawmakers tell WDRB News, they expect one to be filed within days.
The first week of the session was consumed by the controversy over the status of Speaker Jeff Hoover in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.
“We've had some issues that have kind of knocked us off the track, but we're ready to get back on the track now,” said House Majority Whip Kevin Bratcher.
Republican House and Senate leaders said work on a pension bill is moving forward. Right now, the bill is being "scored" or analyzed to determine its impact on the state budget.
“I'm hopeful that sometime this week, we can get a bill filed,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer.
The bill will likely look much different than the one Gov. Matt Bevin proposed in October.
“It's going to be watered down from the original proposal, there's no getting around that,” said Thayer.
For example, Bevin's proposal to switch current workers from their current pension plan to a 401 (k) style plan after 27 years of service may be dropped.
“We want to make sure that we are retaining the teachers that we have, retaining the police officers that we have, until they're ready to retire, hopefully many years from now,” said Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville.)
Even with large GOP majorities in both chambers, finding 51 votes in the House may be more tricky. It is unclear how much, if any, Democratic support a reform bill may get.
“I think what we've seen from this Republican administration, from the House leadership, is a movement, basically, to destroy the pension system,” said Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville.)
But GOP leaders say they are committed to passing a long-term solution to the crisis.
“And I've said all along, that if we don't have a pension plan that gets us some immediate savings, when the budget goes into effect on July 1, there are going to be some really deep cuts,” said Thayer.
“It's something we have to tackle,” said Bratcher. “We cannot continue to kick the can down the road, and we're not going to.”
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