Huge Issues with The Pension Bill

Here are some excerpts from an email one of our officers sent to her State Representative about the pension issue. We wanted to share it with our members to assist in crafting your own messaging for contacting your legislators, should you need it.

Dear Mr. Shell,

I was at the pension forum on November 2 at Garrard Middle, but I did not get a chance to make a comment or ask a question. So I am putting my thoughts in this email. I hope you will read this email and return it with a personal response.

First of all, when you talked about your passion for Garrard County and the pressure you have been under even by church members with regard to the pension issue, I was moved to tears. I cannot imagine what it is like to be in your shoes. When you mentioned that you want to do the “right thing” and not “rush” a bill through that is not ready, that gave me hope! I can tell that you and several other legislators are beginning to realize some of the flaws of this bill . I know after tonight that you realize that we (the voters) are paying attention to your actions. So, if you are being pressured to bring out and pass this bill in a special session by the Governor, keep in mind that you are up for re-election before the Governor is. If you are willing to stand up against the governor, the people will support you and vote for you. However, if you pass a bill that has no new revenue or a bill that has defined contribution plans, you will be voted out!

How do I know this? The Governor’s pension bill is uniting Democrats and Republicans around a common cause. For example, the pension forum in Madison County which had over 400 people in attendance was planned by 2 Republican teachers and 2 Democratic teachers. Now we may disagree about healthcare, religion, or other issues, but every teacher, retired teacher, state employee I have talked to are united in their opposition to this bill. Even the 2 Republican teachers who mow my lawn for extra money after school, were telling me how they are against this pension bill.

So Mr. Shell I hope that you were sincere when you said that you want to do the right thing by the people of Kentucky and by the teachers you had in Garrard county.

Here are my personal thoughts about the pension issue.

  • No Defined Contribution Plans.  They have been tried in other states and failed.  They are more expensive to administer and they shift the risk to the taxpayers and workers.
  •  The structure of retirement systems is NOT the problem.  The lack of funding is the problem.  And lack of funding is not just a problem for the pensions it is a problem for many state services. So we MUST find revenue first!
    • KY forgives more taxes than it collects.  So tax reform should come before pension reform so that some of the tax money can be used to fund pensions.  I am not advocating for increasing sales tax or income tax because I know those would be unpopular and disproportionately affect poorer people.  I am advocating for corporate tax reform and closing loopholes.  In addition I support legalizing hemp, medical marijuana, and/or recreational marijuana and then taxing it to help fund pensions.  I would support taxing soda as well.
  • Changes to sick day policies disproportionately affect women.  Since women do not have paid maternity leave, sick days can be used to provide some money to families in the few weeks they are home with their child after child birth.  A majority of teachers are women so this issue cannot be ignored.  Also, when teachers save sick days or don’t use them when they don’t need them, that actually saves districts money because on a sick day they district has to pay the teacher and the substitute.
  • Freezes to COLA are unfair and unnecessary. COLA payments are pre-paid by teachers so there is no reason to freeze them for any period of time.
  • NO 3% pay cut for “retiree health care” –  this is unfair and unnecessary.  Retiree healthcare is already pre-paid by employees.  This additional 3% is just a veiled way of getting employees to put more money into the pension fund when we have already payed our part!
  • Retirees should have required & fair representation on the oversight board.
  • Delay implementation of costly charter schools until we get our funding crisis under control. We are already not properly funding our schools. Charters are only going to make matters worse. We can’t afford to take them on right now, when the additional resources it will take to implement and oversee them could be diverted into pensions instead.
  • We support separating CERS so that the corruption in that system can be investigated.

Questions to ask legislators:

  1. Who wrote this bill?  Did the KY legislative research commission write it or was it taken from an ALEC draft and made to fit Kentucky?
  2. Would you support legalizing cannabis and taxing it to fund the pension systems?


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