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House and Senate GOP candidates seek change in legislative pensions

September 12, 2012 | | Comments Comments

UPDATED AT 5:04 P.M.

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – A group of Republican candidates for the state House and Senate called Wednesday for replacing the current pension plan for state lawmakers with a defined contribution plan like a 401-k system.

The change from the current defined benefit plan would start with all new members eligible for legislative pensions, beginning with the class of 2013, said Brian Linder of Dry Ridge, who is in a race with Democrat Wanda Crupper Hammons of Dry Ridge for the 61st House district seat,

He also said all state lawmakers would have the option to enroll in the 401-k-style plan instead of getting direct benefits for legislative pensions.

During a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda, Linder and Chris McDaniel of Taylor, who is in a contest with Democrat James Noll of Villa Hills in the Senate’s 23rd district, said the GOP plan would be the first piece of legislation the GOP freshmen would present in the 2013 General Assembly.

They said the plan would be portable to other places of employment, would allow roll-in contributions from other 401-k plans from previous employers and be subject to all IRS regulations.

It also would end retiree health care as an option for legislative service.

“We believe this action, while a small step, is an important one toward eliminating the most predictable crisis in Kentucky’s history,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said the pension change could save millions of dollars, depending on the level of participation.
Asked why part-time legislators need a pension, Linder said, “That’s an excellent question. We have to take small steps to get where we are going.”

McDaniel and Linder said the proposed legislation is backed by a majority of GOP candidates for the General Assembly.

State Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, recently drafted a bill that contains the opt-out provision for incumbent lawmakers while ending pensions for all future lawmakers.

The debate over pensions has become heated in Frankfort because of a shortfall that, by some estimates, could be as much as $30 billion in retirement plans covering lawmakers, teachers, judges, police officers, and other state and local government workers.

Republican staffers identified the candidates at the news conference besides Linder and McDaniel. They were:
House — Max Sturdivant, Don Stosburg, Dalton Jantzen, Regina Webb, Tim Kline, Bill Barron, Nick Simon, Richard Heath, Jason Crockett, Bill Pickerill, Marian Turley.

Senate — Chris McDaniel, Chris Theineman and Frank Haynes.

Kelly Whitaker, a Democrat who is running against Heath in the race for the Second House District in far Western Kentucky, said in a statement that the plan offered by Heath and other Republicans is “nothing more than a cynical attempt to replace the gold-plated pension plan for current legislators with a silver-plated version for new legislators.

“In these tough budgetary times and difficult economy, taxpayers simply cannot afford either the current gold-plated plan or Mr. Heath’s silver-plated version.”

She said she proposed nine months ago a plan that would provide no full-time pensions for part-time legislators.

“I find it disappointing that the first substantive proposal my opponent offers voters is one that feathers his own nest. My opponent’s proposal is more of the same old politics of the past – too many politicians in Frankfort looking out for their own interest rather than the interests of the citizens they swore an oath to represent,” she said.

Filed Under: ElectionsKY General AssemblyRepublican Party

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Comments

  1. Ed says:

    Take bold steps, not baby steps. Bold steps would be completely eliminating ALL legislator pensions with no grandfathering of anyone. Why do part-time legislators need a pension for something they’re elected to do? Talk about double-dipping. They probably are eligible for a pension from their full-time job as well!

  2. Luke Barlowe says:

    I commend Representative Floyd for his brave action, but I am not optimistic that this will happen.

    It is obvious that many of our legislators are there for what they can get not what they can do to help all Kentuckians.

    Let’s just wait and see who will signon to Representative Floyds bill.

  3. ksp09 says:

    Actually I think this article is wrong when it says the pension plan covering “awmakers, teachers, judges, police officers, and other state and local government workers.” is underfunded. The legislator’s pension is full funded. It’s the regular state employees pension plan that is underfunded. The legislators made sure their money is save and invested it in good investments. It’s the rest of us who got screwed and have an underfunded pensions.

    They’ve not earned their pension nor should they be entitled to one when they only work part time so I think they should be eliminated completely. Most of them are wealthy anyways so they don’t need it to live on like the rest of us will when we retire.

  4. Charles Queen says:

    They might want to start doing their jobs before they worry about how they want to soak the people out of money.Lets try pushing to get medicinal marijuana legalised,thats a start

  5. Get Real says:

    This makes me sick. The entire monstrosity should be repealed and eliminated completely for ALL legislators, including Dan Kelly who did so much to usher it in. Anything less is simply grandstanding. Why NOT repeal it all? Because the ones in office now want to keep unfairly benefiting from this, that’s why.

  6. Patrick Fisher says:

    Mrs. Whitaker’s plan sounds awfully familiar. Sounds like what I proposed in our 4-candidate primary ‘debate’ at Graves County High School this Spring, that legislators didn’t need pensions. I guess using steel T-posts to hold her signs up aren’t the only thing she borrowed from my primary campaign.

  7. nouk says:

    How about replace legislative pensions with nothing? Why should one receive a pension for a part-time job?