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OP-ED: Keeping the Promise

by Gov. Matt Bevin, Senate President Robert Stivers, and House Speaker Jeff Hoover

“Keeping the Promise,” our plan to save Kentucky’s pension systems, keeps the promise made to Kentucky’s current employees while also meeting the legal and moral obligations we owe to those who have already retired. Promises made are promises kept.

Make no mistake: there will be no changes, clawbacks or reductions to the paychecks of current retirees, and there will be protections for healthcare benefits. That is a promise you can literally take to the bank.

This legislature is committed to solving the pension crisis, and is ready to lead by example. Our pension legislation immediately stops the defined benefits plan for all legislators, moving them into the same plan as other state employees under the jurisdiction of the KRS Board. Future elected officials will be required by law to pay the full ARC amount, creating a new funding formula that mandates hundreds of millions more every year into every retirement plan, until they are fully funded.

Looking to the future, the defined benefit plans of current employees and teachers will continue until they reach the promised level of service for their pension, with no increase to the retirement age. As new non-hazardous employees and teachers enter the workforce, they will be enrolled in a defined contribution retirement plan that provides comparable or better retirement benefits. Hazardous employees will continue in the same plan they are in now. We are also closing the loophole that has prevented the payment of death benefits for the families of hazardous employees.

“Keeping the Promise” will improve the Commonwealth’s rating with credit agencies. These ratings have steadily declined in recent years specifically due to our unfunded pension burdens.

The right thing to do is often difficult, but we are determined to fix the pension problem. We are doing it in a way that will be of the most benefit to all Kentuckians. This is the most comprehensive and fiscally responsible pension reform plan in the history of the United States. We are confident that the rest of the country will pay close attention to this solution and that it will serve as a prudent model for others to follow.

For those retired, for those working, and for those yet to be hired: we are truly fixing our broken pension systems.

United we stand. Divided we fall.

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