KY Senate Passes Out Pension Reform Measure

March 13, 2008 ( - The legislative to-and-fro over Kentucky public pension reform continues - as the state Senate okayed a measure with significant departures from a companion approved unanimously by the House and put forward by Governor Steve Beshear.

A Louisville Courier-Journal news report said House Bill 600 was approved by a 33-to-3 vote in the Senate.  The bill is now expected to be referred to a legislative conference committee with members from both chambers charged with working out the differences between the two versions.

Senate President David Williams said he is willing to compromise with the House (See  KY Plan to Boost Pensions Increases Years of Service Requirement ) on any of the changes so a pension reform plan can be passed this session, the news report indicated.

Senate Differences

According to the Courier-Journal, the Senate proposal reduces retirement benefits for new hires – beyond the reductions Beshear and the House called for – and sets up an annuity savings plan in which workers would have to participate.

For current employees, the Senate’s proposal drops the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for those who retire after 2018 and for new hires. The second bill freezes the COLA at 1.5%.

The Senate version also would require the state to put $82 million into the plan for workers in nonhazardous positions during the next two years, beyond the $300 million the governor and House proposed.  It also puts forth a funding schedule that would nearly erase the system’s $26.6 billion shortfall by 2020.

Also in the Senate bill:

  • Requiring employees to work to age 57, with combined age and years of service equaling 87. The House and governor proposed requiring a minimum retirement age of 55 with a “rule of 85.” Currently workers are permitted to retire at any age with at least 27 years of service.
  • Allowing the state to alter benefits later for future hires.
  • Putting new legislators and judges in the Kentucky Employee Retirement System, rather than the more generous Legislators’ Retirement Plan and Judicial Retirement Plan.
  • Requiring “double-dippers” — workers who retire and then are rehired — to take a 12-month break before returning to service and making them ineligible to draw a second pension. Currently, a six-month break is required. The governor’s plan calls for a one-month break with no second pension.