By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear asked legislative leaders Wednesday to delay the contentious redrawing of district boundaries until after this year’s 30-workday session so the General Assembly can focus on reforms to the state’s ailing pension system.
In a letter provided to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Beshear urged the legislature to postpone redistricting until later this year and said “I am committed to working with you to make sure it is completed in ample time for the 2014 elections.”
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg has said he would like to tackle redistricting during this session, which began Tuesday. Republican Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester has said he would like to redraw district lines in 2014.
Stumbo said Wednesday that he is reviewing Beshear’s request. “We’ve received the governor’s request, and are still reviewing the issue,” Stumbo said. “We’ll be discussing it among our caucus.”
Lourdes Báez-Schrader, a spokeswoman for Stivers, said Stivers has already said that he would prefer to wait until 2014.
The legislature approved the redrawing of legislative boundaries last year but the Kentucky Supreme Court threw out the plan after the maps were challenged by House Republicans and Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington.
In his letter, Beshear said the state’s ailing pension system — which has about 44 percent of the funds it needs to pay for future retirees — should take top priority this legislative session.
“Reforming Kentucky’s pension programs will require much deliberation and ample time for quality debate,” Beshear said.
In addition to fixing the pension problem, Beshear’s task force on tax reform made a series of proposals that would update the state’s tax code. Beshear and legislative leaders have said the 30-day session may not provide enough time to act on the task force’s proposals but discussions about them should begin immediately.
“These are just two of many issues you and your members may be discussing in this abbreviated session,” Beshear said.
During odd-number years, the legislature only meets for 30 days. During even-number years, the session lasts for 60 days.