By RONNIE ELLIS
It went down to the wire and a lot of people didn’t like either the final product or the process.
But Kentucky’s General Assembly managed to pass a pension reform package on the final night of the 2013 session.
The last-minute compromise package made some changes in the bill originally passed by the Republican-controlled Senate, but it retained, at least in philosophy, most of the features of the Senate bill.
After July 2014 new state employees will be placed into a half-defined benefit, half-cash balance plan. After Jan. 1, 2014, all new legislators and judges will be placed into the same kind of system. The plan will guarantee a minimum of a 4 percent investment return and none of it will affect existing employees or retirees.
Nor does it affect teachers. But it does apply to classified employees in the school system who are represented by the Kentucky Education Association.
All day Tuesday, lobbyists on both sides of the issue thronged the capitol and rank-and-file lawmakers wondered if there would be a vote and, if there were one, would the measure pass?
No one seemed pleased with the state of things on the final day of the 2013 General Assembly – but then not much had happened by dinner time Tuesday night.
Just as happened Monday, leaders of both chambers shuttled back and forth from their respective chamber to the Gov. Steve Beshear’s office. Each time House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, emerged he seemed to be carrying a slightly different plan to fund the annually required contribution to the pension system.
Gone was a 2-cent reduction in the gasoline tax – an idea which House Democrats refused to go along with Monday night. Monday’s plan, including the change in the gas tax in 2014 and some other minor tax changes, was supposed to produce about $110 million.
That’s roughly the amount the General Fund must provide for lawmakers next year to make what is expected to be a $325 million contribution to the pension system. (The rest comes from road fund salaries, federal programs and agency “employers.”)
But no one seemed to like the gas tax idea: local officials said it would cost them money they needed for local roads. Paving and construction companies didn’t like it either.
For the full story, see the print or e-edition of Wednesday's Glasgow Daily Times.