The newest example of why we need change in Frankfort is a new study labeling Kentucky’s public pension system the worst-funded in the nation. Last Thursday a new report from S&P Global Partners called out Kentucky’s pension crisis which is worsening because Kentucky is falling further behind in paying its debts.
Hardworking school teachers, police officers, fire fighters, emergency workers and other state and local government employees are planning to retire but are unsure whether there will be anything left for them. Frankfort legislators like Martha Jane King have created this problem. For years they have funded their own pet projects instead of keeping their word and protecting public pensions. I will fight to keep our promise of public pensions by giving it priority in the budget, getting rid of the corrupt pet project mentality and making the public pension system transparent and accountable to all Kentuckians.
The S&P Global Partners study says that Kentucky currently has unfunded pension liabilities totaling $31.2 billion. The study says further that Kentucky’s pension system accounts can pay out only 37.4% to current enrollees. The system includes the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS), Kentucky Employee Retirement System (KERS) and systems for legislative and judicial retirees. During a hearing three weeks ago in Frankfort legislators were comforted that their own legislative pensions remain healthy. However, KTRS and KERS remain underfunded and continue to grow worse with each losing 1.0% and 0.5% respectively last year. The board that manages the funds was called into question as it was learned that over $100 million was spent in fees to the very same investment fund managers who lost money last year investing for the funds.
I stand with Governor Bevin in making our public pension system a top priority in the budget and making the system transparent and accountable to all Kentuckians. We must build immediate and long-term solutions to keep our promises to public retirees.
Editor’s Note: Jason Petrie is running for state representative in District 16 against Martha Jane King.