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Will history repeat itself with a rush to fix pension crisis?

It is becoming more and more apparent that a special session will be called by Gov. Matt Bevin later this fall to deal with pension reform. Although we have a nearly four-month regular session of the General Assembly coming up in January, the governor is determined to spend upwards of $65,000 per day to convene the legislature on state pensions. Will history repeat itself with another round of rushed legislation that is not thoroughly vetted through the committee and legislatives processes? Charter school legislation was passed quickly without bipartisan support in January and we have no data or results yet to determine the impact it will have upon public school budgets.

For the past several months I have been listening to state employees, teachers and retirees and they are deeply concerned. Thousands of state employees and teachers have requested retirement paperwork, beyond what would normally be expected. Our state government departments and schools are insufficiently prepared to handle the onslaught of new retirees next year and it will overburden an already stressed retirement system.

n 2013, major changes and improvements to the pension systems were put in place through bipartisan legislation. We are only just beginning to see the positive results of those changes. The teachers’ pension system is improving and with proper oversight and transparency, the state workers’ pension program will also recognize gains.

Both Republicans and Democrats have pre-filed legislation to provide designated revenue streams that will deal with the pension shortfall. We should give the pension system legislation careful review and debate before making drastic changes that will have a negative effect on people’s lives and the economy. I urge Gov. Bevin and the Republican leaders of the House and Senate to move forward slow and with caution before making a mistake with the future of Kentucky’s employees and retirees.

Rep. Dennis Keene has served the citizens of the 67th District since 2005. He serves in a leadership position as House Democratic Caucus Chairman, and is a member of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee as well as the Banking & Insurance and the Natural Resources & Energy Committees. Keene is an economic development advisor for EGC Construction. Reach Rep. Keene: 702 Capitol Ave, Annex Room 472, Frankfort, KY 40601; 502-564-5565; dennis.keene@lrc.ky.gov; or the legislative message line at 800-372-7181.