FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky House passed a bill Thursday to change retirement benefits for new teachers hired starting next year as Republican lawmakers confronted the politically volatile pension issue.
GOP lawmakers said the measure would relieve pressure on the state’s troubled public pension plan for teachers. The bill would not affect teachers already enrolled in the retirement system.
“It stops additional personnel being added onto that already-overburdened load in the legacy system,” said Rep. C. Ed Massey, the bill’s lead sponsor.
Instead, the new bill calls for new Kentucky teachers hired starting in 2022 to be placed into a new “hybrid” pension tier blending defined benefit and contribution components.
Democratic lawmakers complained the measure was being rushed and would amount to a benefit cut. The bill cleared the House on the same day it was heard in committee.
“We should be talking about paying our teachers more,” said Democratic Rep. Patti Minter. “And that should be the thing that we’re rushing through.”
Massey countered that the measure would provide newly hired teachers with “something they can count on, that they know will be fully funded.”
The bill is estimated to save Kentucky about $3.5 billion over 30 years, Massey said.
The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.
The legislation is House Bill 258.