Damon Thayer: No changes planned for teacher retirement

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The General Assembly reconvened on Feb. 5, to a full agenda of committee meetings, the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth Address and the passage of several important pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 2, the public employee pension reform bill.
As a result of the intensive work over the summer by a bipartisan task force made up of members from both chambers, as well as nationally known independent experts, the Senate was able to work quickly to take the first step to address the huge unfunded liability in our public employee pension system.  The passage of SB 2, the first bill to be passed this session, creates a sustainable retirement benefit for the more than 325,000 current and former state employees by requiring full funding of the actuarially required contribution to the retirement system beginning in 2015.  In addition, it creates a new hybrid cash-balance plan for future employees that guarantees at least a 4 percent return on contributions. The bill makes no changes to the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System, nor does it affect those currently employed. While the annual cost-of-living adjustment for retirees has been suspended to give immediate relief to the system, it can be reinstated in future budgets if finances improve.  With rising costs of worthy services and programs across the Commonwealth, SB 2 protects the taxpayer and puts the state employee retirement system on the path to solvency.
With the Right to Life Day in the Capital on Wednesday focusing a light on the sanctity of life, it’s appropriate the Senate passed two pieces of legislation this week that would change the informed consent process for abortion procedure. SB 4 requires a doctor to meet face-to-face with a woman who is considering an abortion to provide her with information directly, rather than through a recorded phone message. SB 5 directs the medical provider to offer a woman, prior to an abortion, the ultrasound image of her baby.
Lastly, we heard from the Governor this week on his legislative priorities. As the Governor said, the non-election year will take politics out of the picture and allow us to focus on finding solutions to meet the needs of all Kentuckians.
With a few short weeks to go in this session, we’ll be busy again next week with a planned vote on SB8, a school safety bill, and SB 10 that places a ceiling on the state’s debt, among other bills.   I will keep you updated on the issues, but you can always contact me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.
Senator Thayer represents the 17th Senate District which includes southern Kenton County, and all of Grant, Owen, and Scott Counties.  He is Senate Majority Floor Leader, as well as a member of the Agriculture Committee, the Committee on Committees, the Legislative Research Commission, the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee, the Rules Committee, and the State and Local Government Committee.