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The editor of The Anderson News contacted me Friday afternoon and asked if I had anything to say about a pending bill about the state pension system.
The pension destruction bill eliminates the cost of living adjustment for retirees and creates a new inferior pension plan that does absolutely nothing to address the unfunded liability.
The task force on public pensions said the new plan will not produce substantial savings, packs the Kentucky Retirement System’s Board of Trusties with three special-interest appointees. The appointees, accountable to the governor, will out number trustees elected and accountable to the retirees.
It also promises the general assembly will address the unfunded liability “next time.”
How much is a promise worth from a general assembly that has failed 14 out of 20 years to fund the actuarial required contribution mandated by state law and repeals the law of cost of living adjustment?
As retirees know, the cost of living adjustment is exactly what it sounds like — the small amount of funds given to keep retirees up with the rising cost of living. It’s just enough to keep one’s head from sinking under water, so to speak. We have already gone two years with the cost of living being suspended.
As a retiree, many emotions hit me when learning of this legislation.
Betrayal: We have finished our careers and held up our end of the bargain and we were promised minimum of cost of living adjustments.
The state government lied to its own employees … how can we ever trust them again? They used us up and now that we are no longer of use to the state, it seems to me they don’t give a hoot for the elderly and the retired.
Fear: I wonder what will happen to fellow retirees five, 10 or 20 years down the road with no cost of living adjustment. Think how would you feel if one day your boss called you in and told you, “We appreciate everything you do, however your salary now will never increase.”
What would you do? How would you cope with that loss? How would you live years down the road? Disappointment: Senate leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown says they have the votes and the bill should pass in the first two weeks of February, with all the warmth and caring of a snowman. That tells me a majority of the senate doesn’t care about the elderly or retirees. There was no, “I’m sorry, this hurts me to the core.” It was more like, “take it or pass away, we would be in better shape if retirees would just pass away.” Anger: I’m angry about the casual attitude and lack of caring for retirees. Are we the throw away population?
This bill is comparable to stopping the bleeding by putting a Band-Aid in the wrong place, and anyone who votes for it should be ashamed of themselves and come door to door, apologizing.
Taking away the cost of living adjustments tells me the state legislature does not care about retirees; they are not even giving a hollow promise of maybe in a couple of years we can give cost of living adjustments. We retirees have served our purpose, and the state no longer sees us as useful. It sees us as a liability.
The current existing plan has defined benefits, offers a secure retirement and provides taxpayers with predictable costs.
The ever-rising employer rates have occurred because the incompetence and neglect of our legislature to pay the actuarial required contribution for 14 out of past 20 years. Senate Bill 2 does noting to fix the pension mess the legislature created, and it will not lower the employer’s costs.
Thayer says the state will full fund its contribution rate beginning in 2014. To do that the state must come up with an additional $327 million in the fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1, 2014. In subsequent years the required payment will continue to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars. The general assembly that has failed us and lied to us says it will address the unfunded liability.... next time. How much is that promise worth? It doesn’t have a plan and it seems as if is making things worse.
Paul Thomas Vaughn is a retired police officer and current member of the Lawrenceburg City Council.