It’s a new week in Frankfort, but the same issue -pensions- was heard inside and outside the capitol. Tension continued Monday over pension reform.
Hundreds of teachers yelled “vote them out” on the front steps of the capitol. They were there protesting legislation which proponents say saves the retirement system in the long term some $3.2 billion over 20 years. Opponents, including many teachers, express outrage at a provision to lower cost of living adjustments. While educators were rallying, inside the senate was in session, President Robert Stivers offered a floor speech. “Now this is a long and complicated speech, but pensions are a long and complicated problem,” said Stivers.
In defending the GOP plan to address a huge unfunded liability in pensions, Stivers more than once stressed that putting more money into retirement plans alone won’t solve systemic problems. Sitting in the gallery for the senate debate, Prestonsburg Elementary teacher Kristin Garrett was not convinced. “No, I was not swayed. I value his opinion, but I still feel like this is not a problem that teachers have created and we trust our government to take care of us,” said Garrett.
Bill sponsor Joe Bowen said no one in the senate wants legislation to harm education, but instead, they hope to make reforms to secure pension programs. After adjournment, Stivers didn’t say if he believes the pension bill is dead or not in the current session.