By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson stressed to lawmakers Monday that something must be done in the upcoming session of the General Assembly to ensure transparency and accountability of how taxpayer dollars are being spent on state pension funds.
In a meeting of the Public Pension Oversight Board on Monday, Adkisson noted to members of the committee that while the Kentucky Chamber has been pleased to see additional funding put toward the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) and Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS) in the most recent budget to help stabilize the state’s growing pension crisis, there was concern that these extra funds were not accompanied with structural reforms to the system.
Adkisson also stated the Chamber’s excitement that comprehensive performance audits of the system are currently being conducted on the state’s pension systems but pointed to the lack of reforms to address issues until the audits are completed at the end of the year.
After the information from the audits is complete, Adkisson said, action needs to be taken by the legislature in 2017.
“Every session we delay reforms to KTRS and any additional changes to KERS, the hole gets deeper and we are running out of dirt,” Adkisson said.
In terms of suggested reforms, Adkisson pointed to transparency legislation introduced during the 2016 session and said the Kentucky Chamber is still supportive of many aspects of Senate Bill 2 including putting KRS into 45A, which would provide oversight of procurement and personnel rules just like the rest of state government, promoting transparency by publicly posting investment fees, and more.
Adkisson also pointed to news stories about the changing investment strategies of the Kentucky Retirement System and noted that while the state cannot invest its way out of this problem, measures like this and adding individuals with more investment experience to the boards of the pension systems are important steps that need to be made.
“With the financial future of Kentucky’s economy at risk, something must be done to maximize transparency and ensure that taxpayer money is being used wisely and that state employees will receive the benefits they have been promised,” Adkisson said.
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