Legislators have been protecting their own pensions while failing to meet Kentucky’s promises of pensions to other state employees. On August 22, 2016 a legislative committee received an update on the performance of state pension investment funds over the past year. Numbers presented to the Public Pension Oversight Board showed that the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) pension fund, which covers state and local government employees, lost 0.52% over the past fiscal year. The legislative pension system, which is held in a separate fund, increased 3.51% during the same period.
Due to gross underfunding by the legislature in past budgets, the KRS currently only has money to meet 17% of its obligations, down from 19% last year despite the commitment of nearly $2 billion for the fund in Matt Bevin’s first budget as Governor. The legislative pension system on the other hand, remains fully funded to meet its commitments. For many years state legislators have taken care of themselves and their priorities while failing to make hard choices to keep our budgets balanced and pensions funded. We need leaders in Frankfort willing to challenge the status quo, open up the system to scrutiny and think more about how to get our Commonwealth back on sound financial footing than how to protect their own pockets.
Governor Bevin’s priority, and my priority, is to stop this type of self-serving behavior in Frankfort. Representative M. J. King has had opportunity after opportunity for eight years, but continues to fail to lead. I come from a farming background in Clifty, Kentucky and worked for an undergraduate degree in economics from Berea College, a masters degree from Western Kentucky University and a law degree from The Ohio State University. My education and my experience as an attorney for nearly eighteen years compels me to admit that our problems are complex. Still, I understand even more that problems do not fix themselves, and the status quo is not acceptable. We must make government contribute to solutions, rather than perpetuate problems.
Editor’s Note: Jason Petrie is running for state representative in District 16 against Martha Jane King.