Kentucky educators call for action amid pension woes, budget veto

KENTUCKY (FOX19) - Kentucky educators have a lot to take in after Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed two bills Monday: the state budget and tax revenue, and passed the pension reform bill late Tuesday.

Pension Reform:

State Attorney General Andy Beshear promised to file a lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 151, the pension bill, and made good on that promise Wednesday in a video he released on twitter.

Now that the state's pension reform bill has been signed, teachers are worried about what that means for their future.

The new law will drastically change teacher's pension plans leading to retirement.

Under the new law, teachers hired after July 1 would see the biggest changes. They must be a part of a 401(k)-style plan. New teachers will need to contribute 9 percent of their salaries toward the plan, with an additional 6 percent of payroll coming from the state and 2 percent from the local school district.

Vetoed bills:

Wednesday, Fort Thomas Independent Schools sent out a letter to families to voice their concerns over the recently vetoed budget and revenue bills as well as the CERS phase in bill.

Teachers and supporters state-wide rallied in Frankfort on April 2 to advocate for new revenue streams for a budget.

Lawmakers were able to come to a compromise by voting to impose a 6 percent sales tax on services like auto and home repairs along with a 50-cent per pack increase on cigarettes. Kentucky currently has the highest smoking rate in the nation.

Those new taxes would allow lawmakers to spend $4,000 on every public school student.

However, Bevin vetoed the $480 million tax increase Monday along with the state's two-year operating budget.

Bevin also vetoed Senate Bill 362, also known as the CERS phase in bill. CERS is the county employee retirement system, which is already established in the state, however, Senate Bill 362 would create a new section in the Kentucky retirement system.

In the letter sent out to parents, Fort Thomas Independent Schools encouraged families to call their legislators and ask them to override the Governor's vetoes.

Superintendent Karen Cheser said that funding for all school districts would be devastated without the budget measures.

Public education is not the only area affected by the vetoes.

The bills provide funding for the systems like pensions, healthcare, and transportation, Cheser said.

The 2018 Kentucky Legislative Session ends Saturday at midnight. Legislators return to session Friday and have until the midnight deadline to finish any work they have in progress.

Cheser said overriding Bevin's veto would take an absolute majority, or more than one half of the membership of each chamber; 20 votes in the Senate and 51 in the House.

Bevin has asked for a special session before July to create a new budget and tax bill. Cheser says that deadline is too late for school districts, cities, and counties to make decisions about staffing and other budget issues for the upcoming school year.

Dear FTIS Families,


By now you are most likely aware that the Governor has vetoed the CERS phase in bill (SB362), the budget bill (HB200) and the revenue bill (HB366) as well. We cannot allow any of these actions to take place and must lobby the members of the General Assembly to exercise their legislative independence with veto overrides. Without these budget measures, all school districts’ funding will be devastated. Not passing the CERS phase-in bill will also have a dramatic impact on city and county governments.  These bills are critical to our district. While they are not perfect, they are dramatically better than the alternative.  They provide funding for the pension system, healthcare, transportation, SEEK, etc., as well as funding to help us renovate Johnson Elementary School.  They also phase-in the CERS retirement costs, which, if not passed, will cost our district $200,000 this year alone.

Legislators are scheduled to return to session on Friday, April 13, and must adjourn by midnight on Saturday, April 14. If they have the votes (an absolute majority or one more than one half of the membership of each chamber would be necessary – 20 votes in the Senate and 51 in the House) they could override the Governor’s vetoes. If they decide to pass new legislation/a new budget, instead, it would be subject to veto after the session adjourns.  The governor has asked the general assembly to hold a special session before July to create a new budget and tax bill; however, that is too late for school districts, cities, and counties to make decisions about staffing and other budget issues for the next year.


Please contact your legislators at 1-800-372-7181 and ask them to override the Governor’s vetoes of HB 200, HB 366, and SB 362. We also urge you to go to Frankfort on Saturday if possible, the final day of the session. Thanks for your advocacy and support! Please contact me with any questions or comments.

Sincerely,

Karen

Covington Independent Schools are currently on Spring break, but teachers and parents are planning to go to Frankfort on Friday to show lawmakers their disapproval.

The Jefferson County Teachers Association, which represents one of the largest school districts in the country, urged its members to take a personal day on Friday to come to the Capitol and urge lawmakers to override the vetoes.

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