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Bill Cutting Teacher Benefits Advances in Kentucky

Creative Commons

A bill cutting benefits for retired public school teachers has cleared a key hurdle in the Kentucky legislature despite protests from educators chanting "vote them out!"

The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 7-4 to approve Senate Bill 1. The bill cuts annual cost-of-living raises for retired teachers to 1 percent from 1.5 percent. Republican Sen. Joe Bowen, who sponsored the bill, said it would save the state about $3.2 billion over the next 20 years.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. If it passes, it would then need to be approved by the state House before it becomes law.

Kentucky has one of the worst-funded pension systems in the country. The state is at least $41 billion short of the money needed to pay benefits over the next 30 years. Republican lawmakers say that's why they need to pass the bill. But teachers and other public employees say lawmakers should find new funding instead of relying on benefit cuts.

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