Kentucky Supreme Court Pension Hearing to Air on State Television

In the second televised high-court case, opponents A.G. Beshear and Gov. Bevin will testify.

The final hearing of Kentucky’s ongoing pension saga will be broadcast on state television.

Next week, the state’s Supreme Court will determine if a controversial pension reform will become law. Supporting it is Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican. Opposing it is Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat. They present their cases to the court, with the proceedings carried on the Kentucky Educational Television network.

It is the second time that the Bluegrass State’s high court has televised a case with the network.

The officials will testify before seven court justices on September 20 at 10 a.m. from the Supreme Court in Frankfort, the state capital. Kentuckians can watch the one-hour hearing on the network’s KY Channel, KY KET, which is available in most parts of the state.  The network will show a replay on KET’s website following the verdict.

It will also be livestreamed on the court and legislature websites, and, as the two bodies have been streaming debates for years.

The controversial pension law would put teachers hired after January 1, 2019, into a hybrid 401(k)-style plan instead of the traditional defined benefits pension, while also forcing them to work longer before they can retire. It also puts a cap on how much accrued sick leave teachers can use toward retirement and raises the healthcare contributions for state employees hired between 2003 and 2004.

The changes are part of an ongoing struggle to fix Kentucky’s 31% funded pension program. Facing a $40 billion shortfall, the plan is one of the worst-funded in the country.

The pension package was initially tucked into sewage bill overnight on the last day of the 2018 legislative session, then became law the next day. Beshear contested the bill, and it went to trial. In June, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled in favor of Beshear on the grounds that the bill was not given the proper number of readings and did not receive the majority support from all members of the House. The governor appealed Shepherd’s verdict, bringing the case to the Supreme Court and state television.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected several weeks after the hearing.

Beshear and Bevin have each said they will run for governor in 2019.

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