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Date: 12-07-2017 - COURIER-JOURNAL

Most House Republicans ask Gov. Bevin to hold off on calling special session in 2017

GOP House members ask Gov. Bevin not to call special session on pensions this year.GOP House members ask Gov. Bevin not to call special session on pensions this year. 

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A large majority of Gov. Matt Bevin's fellow Republicans in the Kentucky House sent the governor a letter Wednesday asking that he not call the special legislative session on pension reform before the year's end.

House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne said the letter "said that we were committed to solving the pension crisis and were working diligently, but there was no desire to do that during special session."

House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell said he at least 45 members of the House GOP caucus signed the letter during a retreat of the caucus on Wednesday. There are 64 members of the caucus, but eight of them could not attend Wednesday's retreat, Shell said.

Gov. Matt Bevin has promised all year that he would call a special session before the end of 2017 to pass a comprehensive reform plan to put the state on course to resolve its pension debts of more than $40 billion. But even as available time for such a session has just about expired, Bevin has held fast to that promise.

Osborne, a Prospect Republican, said that he met with Bevin on Tuesday when the governor again "expressed his desire to still have a special session this year and deal with this issue this year."

Bevin's office did not immediately respond to an email requesting a response to the letter from the House Republicans.

Bevin proposed a pension reform bill in October, but it was met with strong resistance from teachers, other parts of the public education community, and advocacy groups representing government employees and retirees.

That bill, which among many other things, called for transitioning public employees from traditional pension plans for 401(k)-like plans, won the backing of most senators but never came close to getting the votes it needs to pass the House.

Since then, House leaders have worked to craft a revised bill in consultation with their counterparts in the Senate. Osborne said while significant progress has been made in those discussions, the House and Senate leaders have not yet arrived at a final revised bill.

Shell, a Lancaster Republican, said most members of the GOP caucus are concerned about whether there is enough time to have any revised bill "scored" for its fiscal impact or time to hear public reaction.

"We've been working towards getting a pension fix. And that's the goal. That's what we want to do. It's just that our members are not comfortable right now under the information that we have," Shell said.

But what if the governor, who has exclusive authority to call a special session, calls a special session for later this month anyway? "We'll have to deal with that accordingly as to what our caucus feels like they want to do," Shell said.

Rep. Jill York, R-Grayson, said she signed the letter. "I'm able to look at a calendar and realize that there's information that we still need on any and all of the proposals that are afloat out there," York said.

Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, gave similar reasons for signing the letter. Rowland noted the regular legislative session begins Jan. 2 when he said the House could immediately take up pension reform. That, he said, would also avoid the cost of a special session — about $65,000 per day.

By Tom Loftus
The Courier-Journal

Comments  

0 #2 voter 2017-12-11 02:34
Quoting Terry preece:
Their main job is to pass a balanced
budget, if they can't do that in
regular session, they should not get paid for special session and have to
stay till it's accounted for, or hell
freezes over, which ever comes first...

And at extra cost of the TAXPAYERS. Bevin is a one time govenor. He needs to go back to where he came from.
Quote
+1 #1 Terry preece 2017-12-10 00:58
Their main job is to pass a balanced
budget, if they can't do that in
regular session, they should not get paid for special session and have to
stay till it's accounted for, or hell
freezes over, which ever comes first...
Quote

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