Kentucky lawmakers gathering in Hardin County for town hall meeting to discuss pension crisis
Regina Boone, a kindergarten teacher and president of the Hardin County Education Association, plans to attend the town hall meeting to deliver a message.
“Consider the impact of changing our pension system,” Boone said. “Think about the long-term impact.”
Boone said she wants to make sure any pension reform plan is fair to teachers.
“Our pension as a Kentucky teacher is all that way we have,” Boone said. “We don’t draw social security. So when we retire, those are the benefits that we’re relying on to continue our livelihood here.”
State Senator Dennis Parrett (D) of Elizabethtown organized the town hall meeting and said the goal is listen to concerns and reassure state workers.
“I think we’ll hear some frustrations,” Parrett said. “Probably more teachers have contacted me … and we need to make sure the teacher retirement system is kept whole.
“It’s not fair to take those benefits away from our current retirees. They earned them, and they were promised them.”
The final version of the reform bill is not finished, but there does seem to be one thing on which Republicans and Democrats do agree: that benefits for current retirees not be cut.
“It’s not something I can even stomach voting for,” said Rep. Jim DuPlessis (R), of Elizabethtown. “So it that’s in this bill, I’m a ‘no’ vote.'”
But everything else appears to be on the table. Lawmakers hoping those attending the town hall are coming ready to listen and learn about how to plug the $30 billion pension hole.
“It’s a shame it got to this. It never should have gotten to this point,” Parrett said. “But it is, and I’m glad we’re finally addressing it, because we have to.”
Boone just wants to ensure the pension solution does not drive away good teachers and affect the quality of education.
“We have a responsibility to educate children,” she said.
The State Budget Director is also expected to attend the meeting. He’ll bring cold, hard numbers about just how big a hole the pension crisis threatens to blow in the state’s wallet.
The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m.