This week, Governor Matt Bevin released a draft of his pension reform plan. Instead of funding the pension system, Bevin has proposed pension reform that puts our public education system and local municipalities at risk.
My husband and I moved to Fort Thomas, Kentucky because of its incredible school district. We are not alone in that. Now, all of that is at risk because our most precious resource as a community, our teachers, will be faced with a terrible choice if this pension reform passes.
I’ll give you two examples.
First of all, in the current version of this bill, teachers will lose out on sick leave pay benefits if they retire after 2023. If this passes, our teachers will be faced with the decision to retire and receive the benefits they earned and expected when signing on to teach or forego those benefits and continue teaching. This likely will incentivize our veteran teachers and leaders in our schools to retire before they might otherwise do so. And our children and our district will be at a disadvantage in losing these incredible teachers.
In addition, once these veteran teachers retire, they will not be able to fill the valuable role of long term substitute positions without incurring a financial penalty. Currently, at our local elementary school, three teachers are out on maternity leave. In their places, long term subs are hired, some of whom are retired teachers. Their inclusion in our school is valuable to the students who will now have a consistent sub with plenty of experience in the classroom.
Gov. Bevin stated back in February during his State of the Commonwealth address that pension and tax reform will need to be solved hand in hand, but that is not what has happened. Instead, he has put forth a pension plan that puts what we hold dear at risk. Tax reform is certainly needed in Kentucky. We need to close loopholes and start taxing luxury goods and services at reasonable rates. Other legislators have ideas on ways to increase revenue at the state level to help shore up our budget. These things all go hand in hand. We have the time to do it right. Let’s demand that our representatives take that time before rushing through this pension reform.
Fort Thomas, Ky
Editor's note: Tomorrow, we will publish an opposing view of this opinion editorial on this issue by Gov. Matt Bevin, Senate President Robert Stivers, and House Speaker Jeff Hoover.
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