Republican State Senator Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville said he is undecided on how he will vote on Governor Matt Bevin’s pension reform bill and says some aspects should be revisited - like the 100-hour cap on retirees that return to public service.
Westerfield said the additional 3% contribution could also be ‘ironed-out’ and made ‘more palatable.’
He said he has sent concerns to Senate leadership, but hasn’t been given a final say on whether concerns will be revisited. “I haven’t been given a firm commitment on any of those, but I haven’t been shut down on them either. So I’ve got some hope,” he said.
He said he has held town hall meetings in each county in his district and is continuing conversations with state workers through email, social media and in-person encounters.
As to whether tax reform should occur before pension reform - as teachers groups and some lawmakers have suggested - Westerfield said he believes the pension issue should be addressed first so as to establish ‘guideposts’ for how much will need to be budgeted for the pension system.
Once the pension bill is done, he said, lawmakers will then know what goals to reach for when doing tax reform and would have a bottom-line goal in terms of revenues.
Westerfield noted that the pension bill will be a difficult vote philosophically and politically, but "if it solves the problem - then it solves the problem," adding that's what lawmakers were elected to do.
Westerfield represents District 3, which includes Christian, Todd and Logan Counties.