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Bevin should stop trying to rush pension reform

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

Just days after the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the state’s most recent pension reform bill, Gov. Matt Bevin made a desperate, selfish and costly move when he called an emergency special session Monday.

The session ended barely 24 hours later, with no action taken to address the state’s pension crisis.

With an estimated $43 billion pension shortfall in Kentucky, Bevin has made a promise to address the issue. But his approach has been flawed from the beginning.

He was wrong to stand behind GOP legislators as they pushed Senate Bill 151, a gutted wastewater bill that contained most of SB 1 and had already stalled, through the House and Senate in just hours earlier this year.

And he was wrong Monday night when he forced legislators into a special session with hopes of once again taking a hurried approach to passing pension reform.

This mistake cost taxpayers an estimated $130,000.

With the threat of the state’s bond rating being lowered in January because of the failing system, we understand the sense of urgency.

But asking legislators to appropriately and fairly address pension reform in a five-day session just a week before Christmas was an irresponsible move that mirrors the same behavior that got us to the end of the year with no reliable plan in place to begin with.

Even more concerning is that there was no real plan in place for lawmakers to even consider once the special session convened.

We were encouraged to see legislators on both sides of the aisle decided this approach was not conducive to success.

Kentucky’s pension shortfall was built over decades. It is simply unreasonable to think it can have all its flaws fixed in a rushed session.

With newly-elected officials taking office and the General Assembly convening in January, it is time for legislators to take a hard and detailed look at pension reform.

There is no time or space for political maneuvers or undemocratic attempts to push through laws irresponsibly. Our elected representatives must put aside party politics and look at what is best for the commonwealth as a whole.

Reform is inevitable. But our elected officials in Frankfort have to start acting like reasonable adults who understand laws and processes. They have to start making tough decisions together, with the people in mind.

A healthy pension system won’t result from the approach displayed in 2018. That has been proven. We hope our state’s pension system has a healthier future thanks to decisions that must be made in 2019.