The push for a special session by Gov. Bevin won’t solve the pension funding problem and will change our communities in ways many haven’t imagined. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, losing money in this community will devastate our local economy. If Gov. Bevin calls a special session, it will cost Kentucky taxpayers $65,500 per day and we don’t currently have the revenue for the $30 billion of unfunded liabilities for teacher or state pensions.
According to the Kentucky Retirement System’s 2016 financial report, 845, 1619 state retirees in Shelby County were paid $34,358,575.00 in pension benefits. Every $1 paid in pension benefits supports $1.43 of economic activity in our community and state, according to the National Institute of Retirement Security What will the financial blow be to our community if those dollars go away? What about our aging retirees — some still independent enough to shop in our stores, purchase medicine at our local pharmacies or eat in our local restaurants?
The proposed pension changes under Gov. Bevin will also affect our local school system.
The average retired teacher receives $36,244 annually, according to the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System. They don’t receive Social Security. Under the new pension plan, Bevin would require new teachers go into a 401(k)-style plan which will cost money to maintain and does nothing to pay down our debt to the retired teachers who have rightfully worked for their pensions. Who else will pay? Under Bevin’s pension plan, local school boards will shoulder the costs of putting teachers into this system, which means school tax will rise for homeowners.
Sound like a good idea yet?
There are many changes in Bevin’s plan, but instead of finding new ways for our state to pay what’s owed to our law enforcement officers, teachers or county and state workers, we will deter anyone from entering public service, law enforcement or public education and instead continue incurring more debt that will devastate our community. We need solutions for our commonwealth not more problems.
Sincerely, Dr. J. Howard Griffith