A month ago, Republican leaders of the state legislature said they hoped to pass major changes to the state’s pension systems within the first two weeks of the legislative session.
The first two weeks are now in the books and a new pension bill isn’t in sight ahead of Gov. Matt Bevin’s State of the Commonwealth and Budget address on Tuesday evening.
House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne said Republican legislative leaders are still working on a proposal and he’s not sure when it will be unveiled.
“We had our first meeting with the Senate last night to discuss the information that we have gotten back on the bills that are out there. We are going to meet with them again this afternoon,” Osborne told reporters on Thursday.
Kentucky’s retirement systems are among the worst funded in the nation due to years of underfunding, demographic changes and poor returns on investments in the state’s pension funds.
Bevin and GOP leaders of the House and Senate proposed a bill in October that would scale back benefits to future and some current employees.
The measure would have put almost all future and some current state workers into 401(k)-style retirement plans and tweaked benefits of current retirees in a few other ways.
But the proposal was met with widespread backlash from state workers, especially teachers.
Lawmakers have backed away from some parts of the original proposal, saying they’ll scale back some provisions that would affect current workers.
On Thursday, Osborne wouldn’t say how much the bill has changed except to say “it’s traveled.”
“Throughout this entire process — getting a pension bill is a difficult process,” Osborne said. “I still 100 percent expect us to get a good pension bill that will ensure the solvency of our pension systems and get us back from the brink of financial disaster.”
During this year’s legislative session lawmakers also have to craft a two-year state budget, which Bevin has warned will include major cuts across most of state government in order to devote more money to the pension systems.
During an interview on KET this week, Bevin said K-12 education funding called SEEK will not be cut and that his priorities will be “education, infrastructure, law enforcement and taking care of the most vulnerable among us.”
Bevin will deliver his proposal for the budget on Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST and broadcast statewide on KET.