Unless you live under a rock or somewhere not named Kentucky, you’ve probably heard the news. Earlier today, the Kentucky House of Representatives voted 52-46 in favor of House Bill 1, Governor Matt Bevin’s newest pension plan.
#HB1 passes. We got this wrong today.#APensionIsAPromise pic.twitter.com/9YArBDu1ki
— Buddy Wheatley (@buddywheatleyky) July 22, 2019
This pension plan is different from the controversial proposals that led to teacher walkouts last spring. Specifically, this bill targets regional universities and “quasi-government agencies” that also pay into the Kentucky Employees Retirement System and would freeze their pension contribution rates for a year. While it doesn’t look like HB1 will directly affect Kentucky teachers, it’s a bitter reminder that they could be next.
Per the norm, Bevin’s latest attempt to reform public pensions in Kentucky set Twitter abuzz.
The #kyga19ss must reject the governor’s authoritarian agenda. His pension “fix” fixes nothing and his proclamation illustrates his disdain not only for the legislative process but also for the legislature as a whole. #HB1 #ProtectPensions
— Renee (@raceangel8138) July 22, 2019
Rep Derrick Graham: #HB1 is not the best of a bad situation, it’s an effort to dismantle the Kentucky Retirement System as we know it. It’s the quasis today but who knows who it will be tomorrow. #KYspecialsession
— Chris Williams (@chriswnews) July 22, 2019
“It’s clear this is meant to dismantle public pensions…” –@pattiminter4ky hits the nail on the head in speaking against #HB1 #kyga19ss
— Kelsey Hayes Coots (@KelseyforKY) July 22, 2019
If you followed along as the session was in progress, one of the major takeaways was the constitutionality of the whole thing.
Kentucky governors have the right to call special sessions out of necessity, but historically, they have not introduced their own legislation in those sessions. By calling Kentucky’s legislators back to Frankfort to consider a bill that Bevin himself crafted, it’s not clear if HB1 would even be constitutional if it were to pass into law.
“The executive branch doesn’t get to legislate.“ – @AngieHatton16 on HB1, which brought an immediate gavel from the chair #kyga19 #kygass19 #kyga19ss pic.twitter.com/dL96tq3hLB
— Cara Stewart (@KYCara) July 22, 2019
If HB1 does go on to become law in Kentucky, public employees still have plenty of reasons — constitutionality aside — to question the plan.
Buried in the actuarial analysis of HB 1, the observation that other agencies in the state pension system might now lobby the Ky Leg for the right to freeze their employees’ pensions and exit the system, creating a risky rush for the door. ^JC pic.twitter.com/ZhHjIZGfi2
— Bluegrass Politics (@BGPolitics) July 22, 2019
After passing the House today, HB1 is moving on to the Senate Wednesday. Because of the overwhelming Republican majority there, it’s expected to clear that hurdle and eventually end up on Bevin’s desk to be signed. Of course, with everything we’ve witnessed these past couple years, there’s no way to know what’s up next for Kentucky’s pensions.
What do you think?
Photo by Scott Beale, CC-Licensed.