Kentucky pension crisis must be taken seriously

Matt+Bevin

Matt Bevin

Editorial Board

Since 2016, Kentucky has faced one of the worst pension crises in history. The current problem has been a buildup over several administrations, and now Gov. Matt Bevin and his crew are taking the brunt. Several somewhat controversial concepts have been proposed to solve the pension crises, but while Kentuckians wait. Let’s discuss why this is such an issue.

Politics aside, Kentucky state employees have been promised retirement money that is now in jeopardy. In other words, these employees have given up a portion of their paycheck for years with the promise the state would match it in their retirement. The system is currently short $39 billion and this begs the question: where did all of that money go?

It did not go anywhere because the money did not exist. For the past 20 or so years, the Kentucky General Assembly and various administrations did not propose plans to continue funding pensions. Additionally, the last time pensions were fully funded in the 1990s, pension benefits were increased without the means to actually fund them. Essentially, more was promised than could be accounted for and the rapid decline of Kentucky’s pension system began.

The moral of the story is Kentucky state employees were promised money in their retirement that the government is now struggling to come up with. Bevin’s attacks on teachers, specifically, has caused even more outrage regarding the topic. In August, Bevin accused teachers of threatening to retire because of the pension crisis. At the time, 20 percent of Kentucky’s educators were eligible to retire, yet were still showing up to work.

The Governor claimed teachers should reevaluate why they were in the classroom and that their motives for wanting to retire should be questioned. At the end of the day, those educators were promised an amount of money in exchange for their dedication to students across Kentucky. Their outrage at Bevin’s remarks regarding the pension crisis were justified and should have been met with support from their governor rather than disdain.

Whether at fault or not, it is now the responsibility of Bevin and his administration to remedy the pension problem in Kentucky. Government workers across the state are fearing for their retirement, and rightfully so, because rather than presenting reasonable solutions, Bevin has attacked their motives and ability to do their jobs.

With the state of retirement in limbo, it has left Kentuckians wondering where exactly the money will come from to make up for this massive deficit. For one, the state’s decision to spend $73 million on the Ark Encounter is a mere drop in the bucket in the grand pension scheme. However, that money could have easily been used on something that benefits Kentucky workers rather than the religious beliefs of a few.

Will the arguably biggest pension crisis in America be solved or will bankruptcy and back and forth arguments overshadow broken promises? If Kentuckians can’t count on the word of their government, what can they count on?

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