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Proposed Pension Changes Bring Fears Of State Worker Exodus

More state workers retired last month than the year before amid concerns that the legislature and Gov. Matt Bevin will make changes to state retirement plans.

David Smith, executive director for the Kentucky Association of State Employees, said state workers have been retiring after consultants hired by the state recommended drastic changes to the pension systems.

“There are folks that are saying you know what, I don’t care, I’m going to lock in my retirement now and get out while I can and fight it as a retiree if they go and change the retiree benefits,” he said.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that there was a 20 percent jump in state worker retirements last month.

Last week, a consulting group recommended that the state claw back cost-of-living raises given to state pensioners, raise the retirement age and ban workers from saving up sick days to boost their benefits.

“Who are they going to replace them with if they truly offer up what they’re proposing or what was proposed? Who is going to want to work for state government? I wouldn’t,” Smith said.

Without changes, Kentucky has to put about $1 billion more per year toward pensions out of the state’s $10.5 billion budget.

Republican leaders have been reluctant to raise new revenue, meaning savings would have to come from budget cuts or reductions to pension benefits.

Bevin has promised to call a special legislative session later this year for lawmakers to make changes to the pension systems.

 

Copyright 2017 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. Always looking to put a face to big issues,Ryland'sreporting has taken him to drought-weary towns in West Texas and relocated communities in rural China. He's covered breaking news like the 2014 shooting at Fort Hood Army Base and the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
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