For those following the pension reform debacle in Kentucky, we finally have the verdict: Senate Bill 151, the controversial “sewage” bill that stood to make major changes to public pensions, has been struck down.
In a unanimous decision made Thursday, the Kentucky Supreme Court stated that the bill “did not comply with the three-reading requirement,” and thus ruled that the bill is “constitutionally invalid and declared void.”
Because the bill was not read three times on the legislature’s floor, it didn’t meet the procedural guidelines required to become a law. In other words, the bill was struck down because of procedural formalities, not because of any actual content in the bill itself.
A lot of teachers saw this coming. The #RememberInNovember movement launched campaigns on this very issue, after all. The question of the hour hasn’t so much been whether the bill would be struck down, but instead about what would happen next.
With the reconvening of Kentucky’s General Assembly in January, this exact bill could still become law if it gets passed again under correct procedures. However, because of all the controversy surrounding the bill, it’s not yet clear if it will have the votes to pass a second time around.
This decision also sets the stage for a bloody gubernatorial race next fall. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin was a major proponent of the pension reform bill, but his Democratic opponents, Andy Beshear and Rocky Adkins, have blasted his policies as being anti-public education.
Adkins called Thursday’s decision a “huge victory,” and Beshear described it as “a landmark win.” But Bevin wouldn’t hear to it.
“This is how they view this, it is through a political prism,” Bevin said. “That is the absolute wrong way to look at this … I don’t give a rip about the consequences politically at this point.”
It remain to be seen what will happen next, but I guarantee this: It’s not getting any prettier.