Feb. 11, 2013 — The first full working week of the 2013 General Assembly was again full of apparent determination by all parties to change the working atmosphere.
But there were hints of disagreement beginning to show.
Gov. Steve Beshear called for tax reform during his annual State of the Commonwealth address, saying he was unwilling to take up pension reform without the security of new funding to adequately fund education after five years of budget cuts.
But the message was less than warmly received by Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he thinks pension reform must be done now and can be done “without exposing the taxpayer to more liability.”
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said Beshear’s talk of “investment” made him nervous that the governor might want to “grow government again.” And House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said the speech was “as predictable as the sun coming up” and said Beshear offered no specific agenda or solutions.
But there was action by both chambers on priorities each had established.
On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill based on recommendations of pension reform task force. There wasn’t a whole lot of debate and it passed 33-5. But while the bill lays out changes for future hires in the type of system they’ll pay into, it only states the legislature’s “intent” to fully fund the system beginning next year — the key recommendation of the task force.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo pointed to the absence of an identified source for the $327 million or so it will take for that contribution and said without a dedicated source of revenue, the prospects of passage aren’t terrific in the House.
That was also the reservation expressed by the five senators who opposed the bill and a concern expressed even by some who voted for it.