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  • Next steps: More must be done to stabilize teachers' retirement system June 9, 2021
    This year’s Kentucky General Assembly took a tremendous step in adopting BIPPS’ policy solutions to address the growing liabilities in our state’s public pension plan for teachers. The passage of HB 258, sponsored by Rep. Ed Massey, R-Hebron, creates a new plan for teachers entering the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), giving them generous pension benefits […]
  • Session featured Override-O-Rama, last-day spendalooza April 12, 2021
    Before this year’s General Assembly, Frankfort GOP insiders joked that Secretary of State Michael Adams might end up signing more bills into law than Gov. Andy Beshear.That didn’t quite end up happening.Still, Adams, who’s responsible for signing vetoed bills overridden by the legislature, was kept plenty busy. He signed 27 bills and one joint resolution […]
  • 2021 Legislative Wrap Up March 31, 2021
    The 2021 session is officially adjourned. Though it was a shorter legislative session, it didn’t feel that way to us because there was still plenty of work to do! Below is a recap of the most important bills we worked on this year.HOUSE BILL 563 - SCHOOL CHOICEThe passage of HB 563 represents a historic […]
  • Fearmongering fails, Ky families and new teachers win March 30, 2021
    Bluegrass Institute President and CEO Jim Waters praised state lawmakers who supported historic school choice and pension reform legislation by voting to override vetoes by Gov. Andy Beshear in Monday’s session of the Kentucky General Assembly. House Bill 563, whose primary sponsor was Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, offers parents statewide the opportunity to enroll their child […]
  • One day, two policies: Bluegrass Institute’s major objectives move forward in the Kentucky General Assembly  March 12, 2021
    (FRANKFORT, Ky.) – School choice and pension reform – two of the Bluegrass Institute’s primary policy objectives – moved forward during Thursday’s session of the Kentucky House of Representatives.The House made history by passing House Bill 563, omnibus school choice legislation allowing parents to enroll children in public schools in districts other than the one […]
  • 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 […]

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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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