KY teachers show up in force for sudden special session on pension reform

KY teachers show up in force for sudden special session on pension reform
Teachers came prepared to protest the hastily-called special session on Monday night. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) called a special session of the General Assembly to address pension reform.

First night of special session full of closed door meetings, little action on floor

He announced the session just hours before it started on Monday afternoon. In minutes, teachers called for a rally in Frankfort at the start of the session on Monday night.

Many teachers and state workers WAVE 3 News talked to said they expected this at some point, but they’re outraged it happened with such short notice and so close to the holidays.

“We just have to come out and fight as much as we can, together,” Jefferson County Public Schools teacher, Alayna Harris, said.

A week before Christmas, teachers came back to the Capitol with a familiar message to lawmakers, to the tune of holiday carols. WAVE 3 News reporter Sara Rivest captured their chants in several videos on Twitter.

“It’s déjà vu all over again," Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, said. "Once again, none of us have seen the bill. No one has talked to the teachers association about what would make sense. We are just completely surprised by this and it’s not the way you operate in a democratic society.”

Educators from across the state drove hours to make the last-minute meeting in Frankfort.

“We are very upset that the governor is not listening to the concerns of state employees," Letcher County Schools teacher, Jason Giffith, said. “He has a lot of people right now who are trying to push his agenda right now, he thinks he has the mandate to do so and I think that he’s sorely mistaken.”

Others questioned the use of a special session.

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“We need to make sure to tell them that they are wasting our tax payer dollars," Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), said. "A special session is not necessary, the general session is supposed to begin in 22 days. What’s the rush?”

Before the start of the General Assembly in January, several new state lawmakers will be sworn in, changing the makeup of the House and Senate, but not relinquishing Republican control in either chamber.

Many teachers vowed to stand by as long as the special sessions lasts, even if that means not showing up for work.

In the spring of 2018, dozens of school districts had to cancel classes on two separate days because so many teachers called in sick to protest the pension reform bill.

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