Kentucky legislature adjourns special session without agreement on pension reforms

On Tuesday night, the Kentucky state House of Representatives introduced a resolution adjourning the 2018 special session on pension reforms after not being able to reach an agreement on what should be included in the legislation.

Earlier on Tuesday in a meeting of the House State Government Committee, legislators discussed the proposed House Bills 1 and 2 introduced Monday night, which stripped much of the provisions in the legislation passed in the 2018 General Assembly.  Bill sponsor and committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Miller, discussed a new committee substitute which would mirror the previously passed reforms overturned by the Supreme Court.

After discussing the bills in the committee meeting for an hour, the full House convened at 2 pm and immediately recessed for caucus meetings for more than five hours before gaveling back in and introducing the resolution to adjourn sine die.

House Speaker David Osborne addressed the body from the floor Tuesday night and said pensions remain the most divisive and difficult issue facing the Commonwealth as Kentucky’s unfunded liability is the second highest per capita in the nation. He highlighted with more than $3 billion going to pensions each year, Kentucky spends more on the retirement systems than it does on all roads and bridges in the state per year.

Osborne indicated when legislators came in for the special session called Monday evening, they had not seen the bill but were under the impression it mirrored Senate Bill 151, which passed earlier this year in the 2018 session. The House Speaker said when it became clear the proposed House Bill 1 was very different from the original legislation, many questions arose which could not be answered within the constraints of a five-day special session.

He said the House majority does not plan to run from the issue and will continue to work to address it as the need remains dire, highlighting two Kentucky counties which have already required a loan to deal with the increased financial pressure of the pension burden.

Following the end of the special session, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce released a statement expressing the business community’s disappointment.

“The Kentucky Chamber is disappointed a solution was not reached on pension reforms. This problem has plagued the Commonwealth for years and isn’t going away. The billions in unfunded pension liability will continue to grow and crowd out essential government services if there are no structural changes made to the systems. We encourage the governor and General Assembly to continue work on this critical issue to ensure the state’s financial stability.”

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