LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After a contentious court battle between Governor Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear, a judge has ruled that Kentucky's pension reform law, Senate Bill 151, is unconstitutional.
The decision was made in Franklin Circuit Court by Judge Phillip Shepherd on Wednesday.
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Earlier this month, Beshear, along with the Kentucky Education Association and the State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, appeared before the same judge and claimed the bill was voided when many lawmakers didn't even get a chance to read it before it was pushed through to passage inside a nearly 300 page sewer bill. Beshear also told the judge the passage equaled a reduction of benefits that violates the teacher contract.
"These public servants have been disrespected. These public servants have been called names," Beshear said, speaking to reporters after the ruling. "And they were betrayed by their government who acted behind closed doors and in the dark of night."
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Elizabeth Kuhn, spokesperson for the Governor's office, released this statement to WAVE 3 News:
Republican House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborn had similar comments:
Democrats called the decision a victory for teachers, state employees and transparency.
"I think it's our hope that this will create better government," Beshear said. "An 11-page sewer bill should never turn into a 291 page pension bill and be passed in six hours."
The lawsuit challenging the pension bill was not only filed by Beshear, but also the Kentucky Education Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.
The River City FOP President said they're happy with the judge's ruling, though they are expecting an appeal. Nicolai Jilek said officers have been worried about losing benefits -- with some considering early retirement.
"For now at least I'll let folks know that there won't be any significant changes, for now," he said. "So hopefully those folks -- that you know over time we've built up into these veteran officers with great experience -- hopefully they'll stay and hopefully we'll be able to benefit from them a bit longer."
Jilek admitted changes need to be made to Kentucky's pension system, but he said Senate Bill 151 was not the right solution.