Reaction to KY Supreme Court ruling on pension reform law

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Reaction is coming in on Thursday’s ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court to strike down the pension reform law.

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is an unprecedented power grab by activist judges. By striking down SB 151 based on process, rather than merit, the Kentucky Supreme Court has chosen to take for itself the law-making power that the constitution grants to the legislature. This is very dangerous. In the long-term, this will erode the rule of law that is the foundation of our government, but more immediately, this will destroy the financial condition of Kentucky.

The greatest financial threat to the commonwealth has now been made worse by Andy Beshear’s self-serving, political lawsuit, and it places the retirement security of tens of thousands of our teachers and public employees at greater risk of failure. This overreach by the Supreme Court will force our state to deal with further credit downgrades and increased borrowing costs for cities, counties and school districts. This is unacceptable. All options must remain on the table to solve this crisis because without real structural reform, the pension system is on the fast track to failure. Governor Matt Bevin

Today’s unanimous (7-0) ruling is a landmark win for every teacher, police officer, firefighter, social worker, EMS and all our hardworking public servants. It fully and finally voids the illegal cuts to their retirement, and clearly states that the governor and General Assembly violated the Constitution. The decision is also an important win for good government and transparency. It sends a message that the Constitution does not allow lawmakers to hide their actions. Because of today’s ruling, an 11-page sewer bill can never again be turned into a 291-page pension bill and passed in just six hours. It is my hope that moving forward the governor and General Assembly will start honoring the oath each elected official takes to support and follow the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Attorney General Andy Beshear.
We are very pleased about this positive decision from the Supreme Court. We’re excited for our educators, public safety employees and all public employees across the state who will not see the promise of their retirement benefits broken by a law passed in the dark of night. This was the right decision by the court.
This decision provides hope that our government works for the people. We hope this decision will restore the honesty, integrity and values that Kentuckians expect and deserve from our elected officials. Educators want to be a partner in a responsible solution that addresses pension funding and the health of our retirement system.
“Public schools and public school educators are here to serve every single family in the Commonwealth no matter what zip code you live in. Our schools provide vital services for all students, and to do that right we need quality teachers and support staff.

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The decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court today will go a long way in preserving our profession because we want to be able to attract the best and brightest to educate Kentucky’s children. This 7-0 decision is a complete rebuke of the deceitful and dishonest methods from those in the majority to undermine our legislative process.

KEA is proud to be the only education organization in the state that stood up for Kentucky’s educators and public employees in this legal challenge. We have and will continue to fight for the rule of law and for the best interests of educators and all Kentuckians.
“SB 151 would have denigrated the teaching profession in Kentucky. It would have deterred potential educators from teaching in our public schools by stripping back our pension protections and what is rightfully ours. That hurts every student, school and community in the Commonwealth.

In many Kentucky counties, public education is the number one employer. And when so many are giving their entire careers educating our children, we should be able to assure them that what they pay into the system is theirs when they retire.



Again, we applaud this decision by the court and its commitment to preserving the rule of law and the legislative process. Kentuckians deserve that from our government.
Stephanie Winkler, Kentucky Education Association President

Kentucky Retirement Systems stakeholders have been vindicated. We are gratified that the Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the circuit court’s commonsense ruling that Senate Bill 151 was adopted contrary to law. During the upcoming session, we will urge legislators to think long and hard before reintroducing a bill that attacks our contract rights while producing no significant actuarial savings. Kentucky Government Retirees
Today’s decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court is very unsettling for the business community. After several years of advocating for pension reform and a very difficult session that yielded actual progress, the Kentucky Chamber is very discouraged that we are back to square one. The billions of dollars in unfunded liability continue to weaken Kentucky’s bond rating and threatens investment in everything from infrastructure to education. We urge the General Assembly to not be dissuaded from reforming the pension systems and to again pass meaningful reforms that will put our pension systems on a sustainable track through the process deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court.Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
The process deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court has been utilized for at least a half-century by both parties to pass critical legislation, and has never been challenged until now. The consequences of today’s unwise decision will be far-reaching – particularly for the separation of powers that lie at the heart of our system of government.

While the legislature would never presume to judge the manner in which the Court conducts judicial business, we are nonetheless bound by its decision, no matter how ill-advised. This unfortunate decision now subjects decades of good legislation to potential legal challenges, while revealing a complete and total lack of understanding for the separation of powers. It disrespects the hard work done by the people’s elected representatives and ignores the constitutional foundations of the three branches of government.

Further, Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure recognizes the General Assembly’s action on SB 151 as a constitutional action in every state, having been developed by the nation’s 99 legislative bodies and their legal counsel.

Because of this disappointing ruling, state employee retirement will continue to be the most insolvent pension system in America, and will serve as a drag on Kentucky’s entire economy. Senate Bill 151 was the first step in moving our pension systems toward a new day of solvency and health. Today’s decision puts retirement checks for hardworking public employees at risk, and is a major setback to the difficult work undertaken to reverse the indecision and inaction of the past two decades. Despite this, we are committed to leading in the effort to enact a solution for the critical situation that once again faces our Commonwealth.
House Majority Leadership

A unanimous decision from the Kentucky Supreme Court that Senate Bill 151 is unconstitutional sends a clear message to Matt Bevin and Republican lawmakers: you can’t change a sewer bill in the middle of the night and use it to flush the retirement benefits of our teachers, police, firefighters and other state workers at the last minute with no public input.

But make no mistake, Matt Bevin and the Republicans will continue the attacks on hardworking Kentuckians and try to pass even more benefit cuts in this coming legislative session. The Kentucky Democratic Party intends to hold him accountable in 2019 and make him a one-term governor.

Ben Self, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair
This ruling is a huge victory, and it re-affirms what I and other caucus members said in committee and on the floor when we called the House Republicans out of order and said they were breaking the law for the way they handled Senate Bill 151, the ‘sewer’ pension bill. We said that the legislative rules and processes should not be ignored, because that shuts out the very public we serve. This ruling also properly protects our teachers, public employees and their retirees throughout the commonwealth. Going forward, our caucus remains firm in believing two things: That we should maintain the bipartisan pension reforms passed in 2013 and fund them.Rocky Adkins, House Democratic Leader