By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill to stop the spiking of pension benefits of legislators who go on to serve in a government role at a higher salary passed through a Senate committee Wednesday and through the full Senate with only two pass votes on the floor.
Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, would only impact a certain group of legislators who were elected during a certain time period and go on to be appointed to a higher paying position in government. A bill was passed in recent years that stopped pension spiking for those elected after 2014.
Pension benefits are based on an individual’s highest three years of salary. Senate Bill 6 would prohibit using pay from non-legislative jobs to go toward their legislative pension.
Thayer noted former Gov. Matt Bevin had an executive order that prohibited such spiking by former legislators who joined his administration or other areas of state government. Gov. Andy Beshear has rescinded that executive order and Thayer said it should now be dealt with through legislation as some former legislators have already gone on to new positions in the executive branch.
Without the bill, Thayer gave examples of former House Democratic Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, and former state Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Dayton, whose pensions would spike if they work in their new positions within the Beshear administration for three years. Adkins is Beshear’s senior advisor. Keene accepted a post in Beshear’s administration as commissioner of Local Government.
Former state Sen. Dorsey Ridley has also been appointed to a position in the administration but Thayer said the bill would not apply to him as he is already drawing his legislative pension.
Senate Bill 6 now moves to the House to be considered in committee.
Anti-pension spiking measure passes in House
By the Legislative Research Commission
A bill that would change a state anti-pension-spiking provision that some say disproportionately affects lower-income public employees has passed the Kentucky House.
House Bill 207 sponsor Rep. Jerry T. Miller, R-Louisville, told the House today that his bill would prevent small increases in compensation—usually earned by lower-income workers—from triggering a reduction in Kentucky Retirement System pension benefits. Compensation would have to increase by a minimum of 10 percent plus an additional $1000 over the previous fiscal year for the trigger to take affect under the bill.
Current law sets the trigger threshold at 10 percent, with anything over that putting the anti-spiking provision into play. As little as $1 over that 10 percent has triggered the anti-spiking provision in some cases, KRS officials have said.
“This provision … makes sure that if you’re, for example, a cafeteria worker in a school system and you have very low income, you can get over that 10-percent trigger,” said Miller. “We’re setting a level below which we’re not going to invoke the spiking provision.”
Around 250 KRS members – mostly classified school district employees—were affected by the provision last year, KRS officials told the House State Government Committee last week.
Other proposed changes in HB 207 would impact requirements governing KRS board election ballots and change how increases in County Employees Retirement System’ pension and health insurance contribution rates are calculated, among other provisions.
The bill passed the House 91-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.