Bevin signs pension reform bill into law; Beshear promises legal action Wednesday

Bevin signs pension reform bill into law; Beshear promises legal action Wednesday
Governor Matthew Bevin. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Gov. Matt Bevin has signed the pension reform bill into law.

Bevin told Terry Meiners on 840 WHAS he signed Senate Bill 151 on Tuesday. He also spoke out against the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), calling the union leadership "frauds."

Minutes after the news broke, Attorney General Andy Beshear tweeted he will challenge the governor in court Wednesday.

The bill is highly controversial and drew the ire of teachers all over the state.

It was hastily passed in the General Assembly, taking only a number of hours to work its way through the House and Senate.

The original Senate Bill 151 was a proposal related to wastewater services. It was substituted with the nearly 300-page pension proposal.

Democrats were upset they did not have time to read the bill before it was passed. Several republicans voted against the bill.

The next day, teachers in nearly two dozens school districts staged a 'sick out.' So many of them called in sick that districts were forced to close for the day.

Teachers then flooded the capitol during their spring break to protest the bill and called for the governor to veto it.

There was never an indication that Bevin wouldn't sign the bill, however. He spoke out against protesting teachers several times.

Like in mid-March, when he said this on a Campbellsville radio show: "This is a group of people that's throwing a temper tantrum and I'm surprised. To me, if they get what they wish for, they won't have a pension system for the younger people who are still working. And for me, that is remarkably selfish and shortsighted."

Under the new law, pension benefits won't be changed for current retirees. Active teachers also won't see changes, except for a cap on sick days which starts Dec. 31. Teachers in Kentucky have had a high rate of attendance, in part because those unused sick days helped enhance their retirement.

New teachers hired after July 1 must be part of a 401K style, cash-hybrid balance plan.

Some are worried it will be difficult to attract new teachers to Kentucky under the new law.

Tuesday on Terry Meiners' radio show, he said the KEA is "not looking out for the best interest of their teachers. They're looking out for the best interest of themselves."

Teachers were already planning a protest in Frankfort on Friday.

Ben Self, Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, issued the following statement:

"By signing this pension-sewage bill, Gov. Bevin and the Republican leadership have just dealt a devastating blow to Kentucky's public education system, public employees, the teaching profession and benefits for first responders. It's obvious that their priorities are to the mega-donors who paid for their campaigns and not the people of Kentucky."

Bevin did veto the budget and tax reform bill passed by the General Assembly. He said those bills were not fiscally responsible.

Lawmakers must now use the final days of the session to either override his veto or draft new bills he will sign.

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