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Bevin Calls Pension Debt an 'Inconvenient Truth' in Gubernatorial Election

Lisa Autry

Governor Matt Bevin says voters in next month’s election will decide if they want lies or the truth about Kentucky’s ailing pension plans. 

The Republican incumbent says as long as the state has more retirees than workers, the retirements systems cannot be saved without changing future benefits. 

In a speech to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday, Bevin called any promises to the contrary a “straight up lie.”

Bevin said the retirement systems for public sector workers are on the brink of bankruptcy, especially KERS non-hazardous, which has only 13 cents for every dollar already promised. 

“KERS non-hazardous, bear in mind, ended the year with less than $3 billion, paid out $1 billion in benefits last year, took in $100 million. You don’t have to be a math major to figure that out," stated Bevin. "How many years do we have left? Two or three, it’s bankrupt, it’s over.”

Governor Bevin has suffered politically for making proposals that he says would return the pension plans to solvency.

Legislation championed by Bevin last year would have moved future teachers and other public employees from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan, but was struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court.  Bevin signed a bill into law in July that allows Kentucky’s regional universities and “quasi” state agencies to avoid a massive spike in pension costs in exchange for exiting the state’s pension systems. 

While the measure doesn’t help lower the state’s retirement debt, the governor said the bill will help struggling state agencies stay open. 

Bevin is being challenged by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear in the November 5 election.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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