by Don Weber
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FRANKFORT – Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, feels that the General Assembly must get a pension reform bill together as soon as possible.
Thayer, who supported Gov. Matt Bevin’s original plan, believes that both the House and Senate will come together and says that a proposed bill is currently being carefully studied.
“We need as strong of a pension bill as possible to take the taxpayers off the hook for the long term risk for new employees and we need to look at making changes outside the inviolable contract that have been noted by folks over at the KTRS and agreed to by the KTRS,” Thayer said. “Those items are on the table for immediate savings that we can use as we craft a budget.”
Thayer acknowledges that there will be a number of tweaks to the original proposal, but says that some things must remain in place for the legislation to be effective in dealing with the crisis.
“We still need to make changes outside the inviolable contract for those who are currently in the system,” Thayer said. “The biggest change is all new employees after July 1, need to go into a 401 (a) style plan.”
Thayer believes that it is imperative for the General Assembly to pass a pension bill before even thinking about addressing the budget, since the budget will be based on what is decided on pensions.
“I hate to be the beater of bad news but it’s going to be an ugly budget if we don’t get this pension bill passed,” Thayer said. “It’s still not going to be pretty, but the cuts will be lessened if we get a pension bill passed with significant savings starting in the next biennium.”