KY House Blocks Senate Bond Sale Proposal

March 9, 2007 ( - Kentucky lawmakers in the state House are blocking a Senate proposal to overhaul the state's pension system and stave off future financial problems, according to the Associated Press.

Governor Ernie Fletcher says the decision cannot wait, and threatens to call a special session if it is postponed until the next session of the General Assembly, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

State Senators say the change is needed to prevent the state pension fund from taking on an extra $200 million in debt. The Senate bill passed this week proposes that the state take on the more than $800 million in pension debt and help finance the systems by selling bonds over the next 20 years (See KY Senate OKs Bond Sale to Repay Pension Debt ). The bonds would be paid in $60 million increments each year. 

According to the Associated Press, the bond sale includes about $540 million for the Kentucky Retirement System – which includes state and county public employees, police and firefighters – and $290 million for the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System, which handles public school teachers.

The Senate proposal also would change pension benefits for future employees, but would have no effect on the benefits of current retirees and employees. State employees are now allowed to retire with full benefits after 27 years with no age limit, but under the new measure, employees would have to be at least 55 years old and work an extra five years before they could retire with full benefits.

“I commend the Senate for their thoughtful, hard work,” Fletcher said in a statement, according to the Courier-Journal. “Taking action now means saving millions of taxpayer dollars. My staff and I will be available all weekend to work with leaders of both chambers to move this issue forward.”