FRANKFORT- There is less than a month until July 1 and lawmakers don’t appear to be any closer to a special session.
Last week, Gov. Matt Bevin said the “onus” is on lawmakers to get enough votes to pass his version of a pension reform bill for quasi-governmental agencies and regional universities. But lawmakers don’t appear to be any closer to having the votes to pass the bill, despite that Bevin does not believe any lawmaker is lobbying against his bill.
“It’s just a function of whether people are willing to do what needs to be done,” Bevin said. “Again, there is one of two choices, we either pass this bill or there will be hundreds probably more than 1,000 people, Eastern Kentucky University alone has said to be 400 some odd people, so multiply that proportionately by all the other people, a lot of unneccesary pain and suffering.”
One thing Bevin is adamant he won’t do is sign a bill that would only freeze the contribution rates at their current levels until lawmakers are able to reach a solution.
“Why would you do that if you know it is costing taxpayers $250 million dollars to kick the can down the road and guaranteeing that future people will not get what was promised to them, why would you do that?” he said. “It’s the wrong thing to do, under no circumstances am I going to sign a bill that is illegal, as was the previous one, I’m not going to sign a bill that has the wrong dates in it, and for any of you to assume that anyone should party to that, would be a really unfortunate assumption.”
Lawmakers seemed split on passing a freeze until they are able to reach an agreement. Senate Budget Chair Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, said Monday he would not be willing to entertain that idea.
“I don’t support a freeze without a fix at this point,” he said. “A freeze is just doing the same thing we said we were going to do a year ago, which is freeze it all, we’ll fix it next year, we’ll fix it next year, we’ve got to quit making that statement.”
While House Budget Chair Rep. Stephen Rudy, R-Paducah, said he would be willing to consider a freeze while they formulate a solution.
“If the votes were there and could muster it and get through the General Assembly, I would be open to a lot of things,” he said. “That’s not the best thing, something has to be done. We can’t just continue to freeze because it drives up unfunded liabilities.”
There has been some questions about the vote threshold needed to pass the pension bill, Gov. Bevin says it does not need to be a super majority.
“You can look at this a number of different ways, a simple majority of those that vote, 51% which is a majority of the actual members, under no circumstance , no matter how it would be interpreted would you need more than that,” he said. “51 would be the maximum, and arguably some have made the case you wouldn’t even need that many. But again, it’s not a function of the number, it’s a function of when they are ready to make the decision.”
Contribution rates for quasi-governmental agencies and regional universities will jump from around 49% to more than 80% July 1.