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  • Count your legal and pension blessings, and respond rightly September 3, 2021
    Editor’s Note: The Bluegrass Beacon is a weekly syndicated newspaper column posted on the Bluegrass Institute’s website after being published by newspapers statewide. (This column was originally released on Aug. 26.)Welcome to the dog days of August. The Cincinnati Reds are hotter than usual and 90-degree temperatures have returned along with some semblance of legal […]
  • Legislative chicanery aids harmful policies August 9, 2021
    Editor’s Note: The Bluegrass Beacon is a weekly syndicated newspaper column posted on the Bluegrass Institute’s website after being published by newspapers statewide.There was much groaning in Frankfort when the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2018 struck down sound pension reform legislation passed during that year’s General Assembly.The court’s unanimous decision ruling Senate Bill 151 unconstitutional […]
  • Pension reform: Will past performance be the best predictor of future behavior? August 1, 2021
    Editor’s Note: The Bluegrass Beacon is a weekly syndicated newspaper column posted on the Bluegrass Institute’s website after being published by newspapers statewide.Action must be taken to address benefits given to Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) members whichtaxpayers aren’t obligated to pay – especially considering the plan’s funding level continues to remain unhealthy even though the […]
  • Sick leave reform estimated to save taxpayers $50 million per year June 26, 2021
    Beau Barnes, Deputy Executive Secretary to Kentucky’s Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) testified before the Public Pension Oversight Board this week about the pension system’s most recent Actuarial Experience Study. The study, which is conducted every five years, compares actual with expected experience, looks forward to the future performance of the plan and recommends revised assumptions […]
  • 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 […]

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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,” 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.

Lowell Reese examines "gold-plated pensions" and Kentucky legislators' history of awarding themselves more benefits at the expense of the state's taxpayers.

“...the main message of this story resides in the subsurface — the attitude of the General Assembly...demonstrated by flat-out greed and disrespect for the public treasury, which now has put the standard of living of all Kentuckians in jeopardy.”

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