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Local Governments, Schools Face Big Pension Increases If Relief Bill Fails

Henryk Sadura
123rf Stock Photo

Local officials and advocates say that rising pension contributions will cripple city, county and school district budgets if the General Assembly doesn’t pass a bill providing some relief this year.

Senate Bill 66 would place a 12 percent cap on how much those pension costs can increase over the next decade. But Republican leaders of the legislature say they won’t pass a relief package without making changes to the state’s pension systems.

And Senate Bill 1--which overhauls retirement benefits to state workers, especially teachers—has stalled amid intense protests from state employees.

Bath County Judge-Executive Bobby Rogers says he doesn’t have anything left to cut. “With this hit, it’s just something that we can’t come through without an additional tax,” Rogers said.

Eric Kennedy, director of governmental relations for the Kentucky School Boards Association, says local school boards will face layoffs and reducing services in the classroom. “When a school board sits down to set their budget and one cost increase such as this is so substantial and so sudden all at once, choices will have to be made," Kennedy said.

Last fall, the state’s main pension system adopted more pessimistic financial assumptions, meaning local governments would have to contribute 50 to 60 percent more to the systems.

Lawmakers have eight working days left in this year’s legislative session.


Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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