With Kentucky’s current legislative session dragging on, Gov. Matt Bevin is planning to veto the recently proposed revenue and budget bills which were to help with the state’s pension woes.
During Monday’s press conference, Bevin addressed his issues with the bills, which are currently unsigned on his desk with just two days left in the regular session.
“I want to make something very clear, this pension bill that was passed does not solve the problem, doesn’t even come close to solving the problem,” he said. “As pointed out by some who opposed it, why should we pass something that would raise $300 million over the next 20 years if we have a $60 billion problem?”
Bevin expressed his main concerns with HB 362, which would have local governments increase pension contributions over a longer period, rather than an immediate 50% hike. Although Bevin did not have any qualms with that part of the bill, the section he rejected would put the financial support of semi-governmental agencies such as the colleges and mental health agencies that want to split from the badly underfunded pension system in the hands of the state, which includes non-pension system members.
“99.5% of the problem is going to be paid for and solved by people who are not in the system. One-half of 1% will be contributed by people who get 100% of the benefit,” he said, lamenting that it would take a whopping $1,3500 per Kentuckian in taxes and contributions to make the pension solvent.
“Have we really solved the problem? No, we’ve pushed this down the road,” said Bevin.
While he acknowledged that there were “good things” contained in the pension bill, he pushed that the budget needed to be balanced to tackle the problem.
“What then is the obligation when passing a budget? It’s to include everything that should be included, including those things you know are going to come whether you want to budget for them or not.”
However, Kentucky lawmakers were baffled by Bevin’s decision to veto the bills. Hours after Bevin’s response, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne called the governor’s interpretation of the budget and revenue bills “misguided.”
“To our knowledge, the governor has had no discussions with any legislators on the details of this budget and what he might consider to be a shortfall,” Stivers and Osborne said, advising Bevin to discuss the budget with legislators before making a final decision on vetoing the bills.
“I did not take this job to make people politically happy,” Bevin said in his speech. “Sometimes making the hard decision…doesn’t make everyone involved in that situation happy, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do.”