By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky General Assembly came back to Frankfort Monday night to begin a special session to deal with pension reforms.
The pension reform bills, House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, will begin in the House as two pieces of legislation. The bills were introduced by Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville. The two bills are similar to the legislation passed during the 2018 legislative session with some subtracted language from the original bill in the first piece of legislation and some additions in the second.
One of the biggest changes that will be seen in the pension reforms from the bill passed earlier this year is discarding a provision that set up a level-dollar funding mechanism for pension funding and ensuring a statutory requirement for full funding for the actuarially required contribution (ARC). The bill will retain the provision stating school boards will have to contribute an additional 2 percent of pay for new members into the system to offset the costs to the state.
The new bill also removes most changes made to current pension plan (Tier I and Tier II) employees of the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) including sick leave credit changes, comp time paid at retirement, an additional contribution of 1 percent for employees to help pay for the fund’s retiree health benefits, the creation of an optional 401(a) plan for employees similar to what is seen in the private sector, and other small changes.
The Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS), on the other hand, would still see changes to the sick leave policy under the new plan as teachers would be paid for their accrued sick leave in the form of a check but it would no longer “bump” their retirement payments as of Dec. 31, 2018.
The new bill would still move future Kentucky teachers into a hybrid cash-balance plan where employees contribute 9 percent of salary with an employer/state match of 8 percent plus interest credit. New teachers would be eligible for retirement at age 65 with enough years of service or meet the rule of 87, which means the teachers’ age plus their years of service must be 87.
The second bill introduced Monday would limit the 3 percent factor to years of service in excess of 30 for teachers and establish a phase-in for the county employee retirement system (CERS) to ensure CERS employer contribution rates don’t increase more than 12 percent per year over between 2018-2028 to provide financial stability to local governments facing large burdens due to increased pension costs.
The bills will be heard in the House State Government Committee for discussion without a vote at 1pm on Tuesday before the House gavels in at 2 p.m. The Senate plans to gavel in at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.