Thursday, February 07, 2013

"Some people" are right, Senator

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers got the state pension discussion off to a bad start when he told the Lane Report the General Assembly is not to blame for us having the worst funded fringe benefits in the nation.

"Some say the General Assembly caused the problem," Stivers told Ed Lane. He then explained that since he has been in leadership (2008), the legislature "has funded to the recommended or greater amount than the Kentucky Retirement System stipulated to the Senate as being the appropriate contribution -- each and every budget cycle."

Technically, Stivers' whole statement is true, but the only meaningful part is the bit about some people blaming legislators. The problem is not enough people are blaming legislators yet. Yes, since 2008 KRS has "stipulated to" the funding schedule passed in 2008 that requires legislators to fund an increasing portion of the the annual required contribution over 20 years, though the contribution never gets up to full funding until the twentieth year.

By then, it may be too late. The Senate's pension reform bill, SB 2, by the way, is basically another "too little, too late" effort that isn't terrible but also lacks the substance to end our pension crisis. Only better budgeting and more funding (and oversight) of KRS will do that now. 

UPDATE: Just got an email from Sen. Stivers' office clarifying that he meant to say the legislature has funded to the level requested by the Governor (and not KRS). And that's fine, but it and all the talking in the world won't solve what actions would have taken care of a long time ago. The public can be engaged effectively on this issue, Senator Stivers, but we are missing the opportunity.