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  • BIPPS’ plan for KERS quasi government agencies praised in new report December 8, 2020
    Yesterday, the National Institute on Retirement Security released a new report highlighting innovative strategies for public pension funding, which included one of the solutions released by the Bluegrass Institute in May 2019 . The BIPPS plan was in response to the growing pension-cost burden for nongovernmental, or quasi, agencies who participate in the Kentucky Employees […]
  • Congress should quash states’ bailout expectations May 3, 2020
    BluegrassBeaconLogo It’s heartening to hear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., take a stand against using COVID-19 relief dollars to bail out public pension systems in states – including the commonwealth he represents – which have failed to enact long-needed reforms.States’ pension woes, after all, have nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic and therefore […]
  • Why no seat for taxpayers on new pension board? April 23, 2020
    BluegrassBeaconLogo A quasi-government group’s response to Gov. Andy Beshear’s signature of legislation creating a separate board for the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) – which covers local government workers and classified school personnel – illustrates the wrong-headed mindset at the heart of all of Kentucky pension woes.“House Bill 484 creates a nine-member CERS Board of […]
  • Transparency critical with 'yooge' amounts of federal dollars flowing into Ky April 20, 2020
    BIPPS Logo_pick COG LOGO While there’s no doubt that the economy is taking a major hit as a result of COVID-19 and that relief is needed – especially for individuals and small businesses who, through no fault of their own, are experiencing sudden upheaval in their financial and situations – don’t be naïve in thinking […]
  • Recommendations for a taxpayer-friendly COVID-19 legislative finale offering promise for post-virus recovery March 30, 2020
    With the Kentucky General Assembly returning to its work today, the Bluegrass Institute urges legislators to make their sole constitutional obligation of passing a balanced budget their top priority.Now isn't the time to raise taxes and increase spending. There will already be enough of that occurring at both the federal and state levels to provide […]
  • Lawmakers give teachers' pension fund an extra $1B instead of awarding it to ailing KERS March 30, 2020
    The Kentucky Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee led by Chairman Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, recently unveiled its version of the KY budget for the next two fiscal years. Despite what the teachers' unions and media would have you believe, the Senate version of the budget fully funded the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) with no strings attached. […]

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BIPPS on Pensions

The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, is asking all candidates campaigning for General Assembly seats during this fall’s election to pledge support for bringing a greater level of transparency to Kentucky’s troubled public pension system.

The Institute recently sent – and asks all incumbents and challengers to sign – an 84-word pledge vowing to back “making the Kentucky Retirement Systems, Teachers’ Retirement System and Judicial Form Retirement System fully transparent, including requiring the disclosure of names, status and projected actual retirement benefits and benefit payments from the Kentucky Employees Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, State Police Retirement System, County Employees Retirement System and Judicial Retirement Plan.”

For much of the past decade, the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions has led from the forefront of pension reform in the commonwealth of Kentucky. “Future Shock,”1 the institute’s groundbreaking four-part series released in 2011 and 2012, warned that without meaningful reforms, the pension liability would engulf Kentucky’s entire economy. In a column published by the Bluegrass Institute on March 26, 2013, the late Lowell Reese, an esteemed journalist, publisher and former Chamber of Commerce executive, urged policymakers to take seriously the need to address the commonwealth’s deepening pension crisis. “The soaring cost of public employee pensions in Kentucky has become a major societal issue,” said Reese, who authored the “Future Shock” series. “The standard of living of all Kentuckians is at stake.”

The pension and healthcare funds for government employees in Kentucky — the state-administered pension systems — are in significant financial stress. The unfunded liabilities stand at $31 billion. Public employee pensions in Kentucky are badly draining the budgets of city and county governments, dipping into the budget of the commonwealth as never before, pushing up the state’s debt level while pulling down its credit rating. The pension obligations are on the brink of dramatically crowding out funds for essential government services such as public safety and education.

“Kentucky’s pension records are not subject to the open records law,” wrote Lowell Reese in Sunday’s Courier-Journal “They are shrouded in secrecy.

Reese, publisher of Kentucky Roll Call, also authored “Future Shock,” a series of Bluegrass Institute reports on Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.

The final of those reports offers 16 solutions for lawmakers to consider in fixing the pension system. No. 1 on the list: transparency.

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