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Pension reforms will uphold commitments and make same changes to legislative system, House Leader Shell says

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell
House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell

Ahead of details being released on a plan for pension reforms expected this fall, House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell says legislative leadership and the Bevin administration are getting close to a plan on pension reforms and are currently meeting with key groups ahead of finalizing a proposal.

In an interview with The Bottom Line Tuesday, Shell said the group of legislative leaders from the House and the Senate have been working for many weeks with the governor’s office and other groups to develop a plan that he believes will honor commitments made to public employees while also putting the pension systems on a sustainable path for the future.

“I think these reforms, whenever they are finished and packaged up and out to the public, they are going to see that we live up to that commitment, that we care about our public service employees,” Shell said.

In terms of a timeline of when the plan will be released and a special session occurring, Shell said he expects details of a reform package to be made public in the next couple of weeks and added legislative leadership would like to see their members get a good chance to review the legislation and get input from constituents before voting on the bill during a special session. Because of these factors, Shell said he believes they are anywhere between 30 to 60 days away from a special session.

A couple specifics mentioned by Shell include the fact that they do not plan to claw back any cost of living adjustments (COLAs) in their plan, a point made in the PFM audit report presented as a way to save some money for the systems.

“When you start looking at what that actually means and you start looking at those numbers, putting faces behind those numbers, we are talking about—I think the average state pension today is about $22,000 a year—when you are talking about cutting 25 percent of $22,000 a year, you are putting people in a very very tough situation,” Shell said.

Shell also said that any changes made to the state’s public pension systems for government employees will also be made to the legislator’s pension plan.

“What you are going to find in people like myself and others who are there that are making these decisions is we want to make sure we are meeting the obligations that we have to our state retirees and the taxpayers of this state,” Shell said. “I can say, pretty definitively, that at the bare minimum that legislative pension plan will have the same reforms that any other plan does at minimum.”

Watch the full segment with House Majority Leader Shell and hear more of his thoughts on the pension crisis and a plan for reforms in the video below:


For more state government news go to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s The Bottom Line blog.

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