Kentucky special session to discuss pension system begins Friday

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WKYT) - Governor Matt Bevin has formally set the agenda for a special legislative session that begins Friday. The lone issue in his proclamation on Thursday is pension relief for regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies strapped by surging retirement costs.

The governor has spent weeks building support for a proposal to cushion the regional universities and quasi-public agencies from sharply higher pension payments that started this month. Those agencies include county health departments and rape crisis centers.

Lawmakers did pass a bill to help those agencies during the regular session but Bevin vetoed the bill.

"This pension discussion we are having is just the beginning," Bevin said. "The reason I vetoed that bill is because it was illegal, because it took paychecks away from people who were retired if their employer stopped making pension contributions."

Sister station WKYT reports Bevin's new proposal includes a one-year freeze at the current contribution rate, as well as options to choose to stay in the state system or leave.

Bevin's team has expressed confidence he has secured enough votes to pass his proposal.

The Republican-led legislature is set to convene at 8 a.m. Friday.

"Even this special session doesn't deal with the true cost. People talk about this surplus. This monies that came in, which indeed did because the economy is working well," Bevin said. "155 extra million dollars going towards the pension. That's less than 25 ten-thousandths of one percent of what we currently owe right now. We haven't even begun to address this."

Lawmakers are hoping to wrap up the session in five working days.

The governor has the sole authority to call and set the agenda for a special legislative session.

House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins released the following statement about the special session:

“The governor’s call completely crosses the line and makes a mockery of the legislative process. Matt Bevin only has the power to call and dictate the subject matter of a special session. He does not have the power to write the legislation as well. This is clearly a violation of separation of powers and drives a stake in the heart of legislative independence.”

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