Legislative Wrap Up

A legislative review had legislators in Bowling Green talking about what they accomplished during the short session of the General Assembly. More than 1,900 bills were requested and 120 were passed.

The state's pension system and House Bill One were two of the hot topics surrounding the short session of the General Assembly.

The Senate wants an overhaul of the state's pension system. Meanwhile, the House passed House Bill One which would restore Governor Ernie Fletcher's vetoes from the budget, including several projects at western.

Neither of the bills made it through the General Assembly.

"What happened was something was interjected at the very last minute and those projects that affect the education and the future of the Commonwealth were held hostage for the pension plan fix which was hastily thrown on House leadership," Representative Rob Wilkey said.

"It harms young people. It harms people who want to go to technical college, community college, the universities. Why not give those people opportunities, that's what we're all about ... hope and opportunity," House Speaker Jody Richards said.

Senator Brett Guthrie said the state has $11 billion in unfunded commitments to the pension plan for current employees and retirees. He said the Senate is working to adjust the plan for those who begin work after July of this year.

"Lower the benefit and implement a defined contribution plan, such as a 401 K, like a lot of people well most people now have," Senator Guthrie said.

However, some are saying there simply wasn't enough time to make adequate changes to the system.

"Is it important that we address it? Yes. Is it important that we do it in a week? No. Let's take the time, let's study it," Representative Jim Decesare said.

Senator Guthrie said Senate leadership believes House Bill One would add new debt to the state.

"House Bill One did have debt obligations. If we can't fix what we know is 11 billion unfunded obligation, we shouldn't incur new debt until we begin to address that situation," Senator Guthrie said.

Speaker Richards said the House will hire an actuary and ask other states what they've done regarding pensions so Kentucky can replicate some of the positive changes.

Governor Fletcher said he may call a special session after the May primary. Representative Decesare said if one is called, he's asked the governor to include House Bill One and enabling legislation for the Math and Science Academy at Western.