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Kentucky Legislature Creates New Group To Review Pension Systems

Ryland Barton
Kentucky Public Radio

Leaders of the Kentucky legislature have formed a new group tasked with reviewing and analyzing the state’s pension systems, which are underfunded and have been the subject of controversial reform attempts in recent years.

The move comes after the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the legislature’s last effort to address the pension issue by weakening retirement benefits for some current and most future state workers.

The court ruled that lawmakers broke the law by rushing the bill to passage, but didn’t weigh in on whether the benefit changes were legal.

In the wake of a failed special legislative session called by Gov. Matt Bevin to try and pass a new pension bill last month, House Speaker David Osborne said that lawmakers were prepared to pass the old pension bill again.

But Bevin wanted legislators to pass a scaled-back version of the bill to help ensure the bill would survive a legal challenge.

According to a news release, the new Public Pensions Working Group will “conduct a review of the systems’ structure, costs, benefits, and funding.”

The group is supposed to come up with recommendations for how the legislature should address the pension systems by Feb. 15, though it could receive extensions until March 1 or Dec. 1 if it needs more time.

The panel will be chaired by Sen. Wil Schroder, a Republican from Wilder, and Rep. Jerry Miller, a Republican from Louisville.

Since 2013, the legislature has had a special panel to review the pension systems’ financial health — the Public Pension Oversight Board — which includes lawmakers, state officials and experts.

The new group includes only elected lawmakers.

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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