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  • Nothing complicated about this pension plan February 18, 2021
    Northern Kentucky Rep. Buddy Wheatley recently described legislation aimed at bringing more fairness and stability to agencies in the Kentucky Retirement Systems as a “complicated onion.”Wheatley, D-Covington, offered the analogy during a recent House State Government Committee meeting considering legislation addressing severe inequalities resulting in some agencies paying more – often much more – into […]
  • BIPPS pension reform ideas move forward in the General Assembly February 8, 2021
    As lawmakers returned to Frankfort for Part 2 of the 2021 legislative session, pension reform topped the list of their priorities.BIPPS’ pension ideas regarding both a new Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) hybrid plan for new teachers and our solutions to ease the skyrocketing pension costs for quasi-governmental agencies easily passed the House State Government Committee […]
  • New progressive pension plan positive for future teachers January 31, 2021
    In one sense, Rep. Ed Massey’s bill to create a new tier within the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) represents a substantial change in Kentucky’s pension system – but only for new teachers. In another real and important way during this time of political upheaval, House Bill 258 embodies no change at all – at least not […]
  • New pension approach should appeal to new teachers January 15, 2021
    Kentucky’s journey toward pension reform continues with legislation filed this week which incorporates ideas the Bluegrass Institute has offered in the past and continues to support, and presents a more secure and attractive retirement future for young teachers just beginning their careers.  Rep. Ed Massey, R-Hebron, filed House Bill 258 on Tuesday after more than […]
  • 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 […]

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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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