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Amid teacher protests, Kentucky governor signs pension bill

Posted at 6:53 PM, Apr 10, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Republican governor has signed a bill into law that makes changes to the state's troubled public pension systems over the loud objections of the state's teachers.

Matt Bevin signed the bill on Tuesday. This version removes some of the most vilified provisions of previous proposals: Current and retired teachers, who are not eligible for Social Security benefits, would still get annual raises of 1.5 percent in their retirement checks, and current workers would not have to work longer to qualify for full benefits.

But new hires would be moved to a hybrid plan and lose the protection from future changes their predecessors received. They would be guaranteed to get back all of the money they and taxpayers contributed to their retirement accounts, plus 85 percent of any investment gains. The state would keep the other 15 percent.

Bevin said the bill is not what it could have been but said there is nothing in it that is bad for Kentucky.

RELATED: Kentucky teachers plan another rally for education funding

Teachers have opposed the bill and the process that led to its passage by a Republican-led state legislature on March 29. It began that day as a sewage bill, transformed into an education bill by mid-afternoon and, amid chants of "do the right thing" from teachers in the capitol, was sent on its way to the governor's office at 10:30 p.m. that night.

The Kentucky Education Association has been leading the protests. Bevin called their leadership "absolute frauds" and accused teachers who protested of being "selfish" and "willfully ill-informed."

Shoring up the pension system has been a priority of Bevin's since taking office in 2015. But his efforts have met with difficulties. His first proposal, unveiled last year, would have closed the pension system and eventually moved everyone into a 401(k)-style plan.

Kentucky's Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear, who has clashed publicly with Bevin on numerous occasions and said he was "outraged" when the state legislature passed the bill, tweeted he planned to "take action" as soon as courts opened Wednesday morning.