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March 3, 2018

Jones says he is a 'no' vote on budget, pension plan

By Senator Ray S. Jones, II

FRANKFORT — This week, advocates lined the Capitol and Annex hallways, meeting rooms, tunnels and anywhere there were legislators. Unhappy Kentuckians --specifically school and public employees, active and retired – were seeking support for their pensions. The event corresponded with the committee hearing on the Senate Republican’s pension proposal, Senate Bill 1.

State Senator Ray S. Jones State Senator Ray S. Jones No action was taken on the bill in the Senate State and Local Committee. We were told the bill is being modified by a Senate committee substitute. There was brief testimony, following a breakdown of SB 1 by the bill sponsor who is also committee chair. As to the committee substitute, it arrived late Thursday. I read the proposal. The modifications made were not significant enough to change my mind about SB 1. The changes will not fulfil the obligations we have to all those whose lives and livelihood it will ultimately affect.

As it stands now, I do not support SB 1. I cannot, in good conscience, vote favorably on a bill that will be detrimental to so many school personnel, public employees, retirees, and all those associated with the retirement systems.

This bill has grave effects on teachers, state troopers, social workers and an ongoing list of people with whom we depend daily for services. Further, it will do great harm to our education system and our government agencies because recruitment and retention will be made much more difficult. Not only will the bill in its current form have a negative impact on Kentuckians, but it will also have an adverse effect on fundamental services. For instance, it will increase the financial hardship on school districts across Kentucky – putting many districts, especially districts in eastern Kentucky, in a financial crisis. This legislation will endanger public services provided to our most vulnerable citizens and the retirement situations of many of our elderly citizens.

Another factor to consider is that Kentucky's attorney general Andy Beshear has said that large parts of the bill are illegal because they disregard the inviolable contract of current state, city, and county retirees.

In my opinion, SB 1 is bad public policy. It will hurt school employees, public employees, taxpayers, local school districts and public education, and hamper government agencies and services. It is not good for individuals and is not good for Kentucky.

Unless the amended version overhauls the bill to create legislation that keeps our pension promise to teachers, public employees, and retirees -- I will continue to fight the legislation.

Having passed the two-thirds mark of the 2018 session, our pace will continue to pick up. The House has passed its version of the two-year budget and tax reform. Those bills have just arrived in the Senate and I will be reviewing those, along with any changes to the pension reform bill.

Over the next few weeks, the number of bills voted out of committee and on the floor will increase significantly. It is more important than ever that you stay engaged and share your input. To follow bills or check a bills status, go to www.lrc.ky.gov. To leave a message for any legislator, call the General Assembly’s Message Line at 800-372-7181. You can also e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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