Two days and $130,000 after it began, members of the Kentucky General Assembly voted unanimously last Tuesday to end the special session called by Gov. Matt Bevin to reform public pensions.
KEA President Stephanie Winkler described the governor’s action calling the session as a temper tantrum.
Voting 33-0 in the Senate and 85-0 in House to go home instead of trying to fix the problem in five days, the GOP leadership of each chamber said the state’s $38 billion funding shortfall is too complicated to be solved quickly.
Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker David Osborne and the governor agreed that pension reform must be a priority in the 2019 legislative session which starts Jan. 8 and runs for 30 days.
A special session costs Kentucky taxpayer about $65,000 per day with at least five days required for a single bill to become law.
The flurry of excitement in the General Assembly followed a unanimous decision by the State Supreme Court a week earlier to invalidate Senate Bill 151 which was passed last March to make major changes
in public pensions.
We believe that Bevin was rightfully criticized for calling the session without notice to either party, for demanding that all of the members show up within four hours and for having his staff, rather than LRC bill drafters, prepare bills that he expected the lawmakers to essentially approve as he submitted.
House and Senate members from both parties were publicly and privately critical of the governor’s decision to try to fix the pension shortfall in this calendar year to avoid what he claimed would be disastrous consequences for the state’s credit rating.
Teachers and other public employees from across the state streamed into Frankfort on Monday and Tuesday to start another series of protests against Bevin’s attempt to get a new pension bill passed before the end of 2018.
In our view, this sad episode again demonstrates the unbridled arrogance and egotism of our governor who believes he is smarter than everyone in all three branches of state government combined.