Teachers spar with lawmakers as pension bill passes committee

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)- Kentucky’s republican-backed pension reform bill cleared its first hurdle in Frankfort Wednesday.

The bill looks to repair Kentucky’s ailing public pension system that currently faces a close to $40 billion funding shortfall.

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During their committee meeting in Frankfort, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1, the bill that would overhaul the state’s pension system, but not without opposition from dozens of teachers who packed the room sparing with senators as they cast their votes.

Shouts of anger came from the swarm of teachers at Wednesday’s senate committee meeting as they berated lawmakers for passing Senate Bill 1.

The bill, which passed committee with a 7-4 vote, is upsetting teachers for a variety of reasons including the fact that the bill reduces the cost-of-living raise for retired teachers from one and a half percent to one percent.

“I’m not sure how they feel disrespected because I met with several retired teachers. In fact I had some of them here when we talked about the earlier process they were very comfortable with what we were talking about back in august and September,” said Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican.

“So we will continue to do our jobs in public schools because that’s what our communities expect and deserve but we also expect and deserve for the legislators to do their part in finding funding so we can do our jobs,” said Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association.

While hosting Vice President Mike Pence in Versialles, Governor Matt Bevin did not hold back when it came to how he felt about this pension bill controversy.

“The reality is this, I am saving the pension system. If they’re upset about it it’s because they’re either ill informed or willfully blind. I think the vast majority of teachers are none of the above,” said Gov. Bevin.

Senate President Stivers says he expects this bill will get a vote on the senate floor either by the end of this week or early next week.

If approved it will go to the house for a vote.