Local teachers attend pension rally and express their disapproval for the proposal

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- On Wednesday, Kentucky state employees gathered at the State Capitol in Frankfort to rally against the new pension proposal.

13 News spoke with several area teachers who attended to find out why they oppose it.

Ten Bowling Green High School teachers attended Wednesday's Pension rally.

"We worked half of a day, and then we took half of a personal day and went up to the rally," says Tara Coomes, science teacher at BGHS.

Teachers described the vibe as energetic, although not at first.

"At first, I felt a lot of anxiety and then as there were more and more people showing up, that people felt you know, empowered," says Amy Cash, math teacher at BGHS.

Rally participants included a variety of state agencies, all of whom personally feel affected by the latest pension proposal.

"It was heartening to see that we were all in the same boat and that we were all willing to, you know, be a voice for those that couldn't be there," says Cash.

The proposal would move new employees to a 401(k)-style plan and freeze pensions for current employees at 27 years of service.

"At 49 years old, I will have to leave the classroom, it's not because I don't love my job or love my students, I absolutely do, it's because it will not be a financially sound decision for me to stay," says Cash.

The plan also calls for public workers and teachers to contribute an additional 3% of their salaries to fund retiree health care plans.

Many teachers and other public state workers have acknowledged the inevitable change, as the the current pension is at least $33 billion short the money it needs.

"I think we do need pension reform, I don't think this is the answer," says Coomes.

Coomes along with many others who oppose, recommend going about it in a different way.

"We need to be at the table when they start talking about the reform. Why do we not have teachers at the table, why do we not have police officers, why do we not have firefighters, why do we not have the road department?" asks Coomes.

Which ultimately led them to meet in Frankfort on Wednesday. Coomes expressed her's and others hope for the area legislators to come through and support them during this time.

"I feel that this is where the legislators work for us we put them in the Capitol, their working for us. I would like to see them do what's best for us and voting for this pension reform is not what's best for us," says Coomes.

The Bowling Green High School teachers say there will be another rally if and when there's a special session called to vote on the governor's pension proposal, they say there's even a possibility some of their students will also attend.

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