Monday, October 22, 2012

Courageous candidates' legislative pension fix

Since 2005, several Kentucky legislators have taken advantage of a pension trick pushed into law by Senate President David Williams and former House Speaker Jody Richards to enrich themselves with public money after long General Assembly careers and short stints in the executive or legislative branches of state government.

J.R. Gray. Steve Nunn. Dan Kelly. Charlie Borders. James Comer. Ernesto Scorsone. Fred Nesler. Jon Draud. Greg Stumbo. Clearly, this is a bipartisan problem.

Several legislators have filed bills the last few years to close this "loophole," but none have seriously gotten close to being enacted. It's time for that to change.

Ironically, the first person who could have taken advantage of this pension trick did not do so.

Former state Rep. Joe Barrows took retirement from the legislature rather than boost his pension with the "reciprocity" scheme before going to work in the Executive Branch.

This week, Senate President David Williams will come one big step closer to a judicial appointment that would make all his state pension dreams come true at a cost to taxpayers of nearly one million dollars. Five state House candidates joined together last week and signed onto a statement encouraging Williams to put an end to the pension grab madness.

Chris Hightower, Matt Lockett, Jason Crockett, Bryan Lutz and Lynn Bechler agreed to the following:

"Should Senate President David Williams accept appointment to the circuit judgeship in his home district, we encourage him to set a strong example for future legislators by retiring from the legislature so he will not be eligible to receive pension reciprocity he has fought to repeal in the Senate."
"The honor of appointment or election to higher office deserves to be without controversy as much as possible and we believe President Williams' leadership on this issue will be followed by others until the reciprocity law can be repealed by the legislature."
Williams would do very well to go along with this. Same goes for Senator Tom Jensen, who is also leaving the legislature to become a judge.