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Posts tagged as “pensions”

Louisville Plan To Use Surplus Funds For Pensions Makes Sense, Expert Says

Louisville Metro had a budget surplus of about $4 million from the last fiscal year due to factors including a slowdown in spending and higher-than-expected corporate property tax payments. Now government officials say they want to put most of that money toward paying the city’s increasing pension bill, a strategy one expert said makes sense.

Some of Kentucky’s pensions are among the lowest-funded in the nation, and the state pensions Louisville participates in are less than 60 percent funded.

And city leaders expect that pension bill to rise significantly for the next several years. Some want to raise taxes, but one attempt to do that to avoid budget cuts this year failed and other some other tax options are limited by state law.

Now, with an unexpected $4 million available, there’s talk of using a chunk of those funds to offset the pension bill, which is expected to grow more than $10 million a year for the next several years. The city’s chief financial officer, Daniel Frockt, recently addressed the Metro Council’s budget committee, where he said the administration is suggesting dividing $2.7 million into payments over the next three years.

Frockt said pension payments are projected to …

Murray Energy’s Bankruptcy Could Bring Collapse Of Coal Miners’ Pensions

The recent bankruptcy of Ohio Valley coal giant Murray Energy has renewed fears about the already shaky financial foundations of the pension plan that tens of thousands of miners and their families depend upon.

The seismic collapse of yet another coal employer has lawmakers from the region renewing their push to fix the United Mine Workers pension fund, and has even raised broader concerns about pensions for a range of other trades.

Murray Energy has a substantial footprint across the region. It is also the last major employer contributing to the UMWA pension plan. In its bankruptcy filing, the company reports $2.7 billion in debt and more than $8 billion in obligations under various pension and benefit plans. More information will likely come out as the bankruptcy court takes up the matter.

Bob Murray speaking at an event in October, 2019.

Bankruptcy proceedings often take months, and it’s not yet clear if the company will be relieved of its pension obligations. UMWA spokesperson Phil Smith said if recent history is any guide, that is a likely outcome.

“We don’t think any company should be able to be relieved of its responsibility to any retirees, whether they’re in the coal industry …

Ohio Valley Senators Again Aim To Shore Up Shaky Pension Plan For Coal Miners

Following a failed attempt to address a looming crisis in many multi-employer pension programs, two Ohio Valley lawmakers have introduced a bill in Congress to shore up the shaky pension plan for coal miners. The bill also aims to protect health benefits and restore funding for the federal trust fund providing benefits for thousands of miners sickened by black lung disease.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is one of six Democrats sponsoring the American Miners Act of 2019, which seeks to fund the pension plan for coal miners guaranteeing retirement and health benefits from cradle to grave. Brown says the fund is at risk of insolvency due to a downturn in the coal market, the 2008 recession, and coal company bankruptcies.

“Mine workers are in a particularly vulnerable position,” Brown said. “Mine workers and their widows would lose 40 to 50 percent of their pension.”  

UMWA retirees talk pension protection with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Brown and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin served on a joint select committee on multi-employer pensions last year. That committee was tasked with finding a solution to pension problems affecting a range of work from teamsters and iron workers to bakers and confectioners. But …

Here’s What’s On Tap For The 2019 Ky. Legislative Session

During the upcoming Kentucky General Assembly, lawmakers will consider taking up a variety of proposals like a new attempt to change state worker pension benefits, funding for charter schools and limiting citizens’ right to sue other individuals and businesses.

Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office for the third year in a row, meaning they won’t need any help from Democrats to pass bills or constitutional amendments if they can stay united.

But there are still divisions within the legislature’s GOP ranks, especially when it comes to whether or how to overhaul retirement benefits for state workers in an attempt to address the state’s $38 billion pension debt.

Because 2019 is an election year for statewide offices like governor and attorney general, the session will also serve as an arena for candidates inside and out of the legislature to try and curry favor with voters.

The General Assembly lasts for a total of 30 working days between Jan 9 and Mar 31.

Unlike last year’s legislative session, this is not an official “budget writing year,” so it’ll be harder to pass bills that deal with money. This year it takes a two-thirds majority vote …

Lawmakers Vote To Adjourn Bevin’s Special Session On Pension Reform

A little less than 24 hours after Gov. Matt Bevin summoned lawmakers to Frankfort to make changes to the state’s pension systems, the legislature voted to end the special session.

The development is a blow to the governor, who called the special session days after the state Supreme Court struck down a new pension law that Bevin signed earlier this year.

Bevin defended his decision to call the session despite the $65,000-per day cost.

“To do the right thing is never a waste of time and money,” Bevin said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat and they would come to do it again in a heartbeat for those who came here in good faith.”

Lawmakers will be back in Frankfort in about three weeks for the regularly-scheduled yearly legislative session.

By having a special session before the end of 2018, lawmakers would have been able to pass pension reform with a constitutional majority. That threshold shoots up to a three-fifths majority during non-budget years like 2019.

Acting House Speaker David Osborne said that Republican lawmakers were prepared to pass the same pension reform bill that was struck down by the Supreme Court last week, but Bevin came forward …

Republicans Say Ky. Supreme Court Wrong To Rule Against Pension Bill

Gov. Matt Bevin and Republican state lawmakers lashed out at the Kentucky Supreme Court after it struck down the controversial pension bill that passed into law earlier this year.

The seven justices on Kentucky’s high court unanimously ruled that Republican leaders of the legislature violated the state constitution by rushing the pension bill to passage without following proper procedures intended give lawmakers and the public time to understand the legislation.

Bevin, the GOP leaders of both legislative chambers and the Republican Party of Kentucky all disagreed with the outcome.

The House Republican Caucus issued a statement saying that the ruling revealed “a complete and total lack of understanding for the separation of powers.”

“It disrespects the hard work done by the people’s elected representatives and ignores the constitutional foundations of the three branches of government,” House Republicans wrote in a statement.

The Kentucky Constitution requires bills to be formally presented on three separate days before they are eligible for a vote.

Though lawmakers usually follow this process, they sometimes vote to override the “reading” requirement, especially when time is running out late in the legislative session.

In the case of the pension bill, Republican leaders of the legislature emptied out

Kentucky Supreme Court Strikes Down Pension Bill

In a major blow to Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration and the Republican-led legislature, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has upheld a ruling that struck down changes to the state’s pension system that passed into law earlier this year.

The pension law was challenged by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, who argued that the changes violated state workers’ contract rights and that lawmakers had illegally rushed the bill to passage.

Like a lower court that ruled against the law over the summer, the Supreme Court did not weigh in on whether the specific alterations to the pension system were legal, but rather ruled that the manner in which legislators passed the bill violated the state Constitution.

Thousands of teachers and other state workers held massive rallies in Frankfort earlier this year to protest the changes.

After early versions of a pension bill failed amid noisy protests, late in the legislative session lawmakers unveiled a final version and passed it through both legislative chambers in a matter of hours.

The pension law would have changed how current workers can use saved-up sick days to qualify for retirement, and required employees hired between 2003 and 2008 to pay 1 percent of their salaries …

If Pension Bill Struck Down, Ky. Republicans Say They’ll Pass A New One

Republican leaders of the Kentucky legislature say they will consider passing another bill dealing with state workers’ retirement benefits if the state Supreme Court strikes down the controversial pension bill that drew thousands of protesters to Frankfort earlier this year.

A lower court blocked the pension bill from going into effect over the summer and a Supreme Court decision over an appeal of the case could come as soon as next week.

At a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce event, Senate President Robert Stivers said that the legislature should pass a new measure if the pension bill is struck down.

“If it is something we have to revisit and can be based on procedure, I think we can do that and I think we should because it is a problem that has not gone away,” Stivers said, dismissing calls for the state to raise more revenue through legalization of casino gambling.

“If you believe that gaming is the panacea or the silver bullet, I think everybody on this stage can tell you, what is generated by gaming? Even if it were to pass, it’s still only a drop in the bucket.”

Franklin Circuit Court blocked the pension bill over the summer …

Pension Bill To Be Argued Before Kentucky Supreme Court On Thursday

The lawsuit against Kentucky’s new pension law will be heard by the Supreme Court of Kentucky on Thursday, pitting Kentucky’s two preeminent political rivals against each other and putting retirement benefits for thousands of teachers and state workers in the balance.

The pension changes were passed during this year’s legislative session amid massive protests and were blocked by a lower court, which ruled that lawmakers violated the state constitution by rushing the bill to passage during a matter of hours.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued to block the changes and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is defending them.

In a legal brief, Beshear called the process that lawmakers used to pass the law “government at its worst.”

“…[R]ushing legislation through without any public comment, without the required analysis on whether it would work, without giving legislators the time to read it, and without the necessary number of votes,” Beshear wrote. “The Kentucky Constitution explicitly prohibits this process.”

The pension battle is one of eight legal battles between the two officials, who so far are the only people to announce they’re running for governor next year.

The hearing will be aired statewide on KET — the first time arguments before the …