Bevin: Special session ‘coming up sooner than later’

By BRUCE SCHREINER Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin didn’t reveal Thursday when he’ll bring lawmakers back to Kentucky’s Capitol to resume working on a pension issue, but said the special legislative session will be “coming up sooner than later.”

Bevin recently vetoed a measure intended to give regional universities, county health departments and many other agencies relief from a spike in pension costs they face July 1. He said at the time that he’d call a special session before then so lawmakers can consider a substitute proposal.

The Republican governor told reporters Thursday that his team has been working on the new version.

The veto caught leaders of the GOP-dominated legislature by surprise, and they have said it’s up to Bevin to craft the new bill, line up support and commit to signing it. The stricken measure passed shortly before this year’s regular legislative session ended in late March, so lawmakers were unable to try to override the veto.

Asked about the timing for the special session, Bevin replied: “There is not a date set definitively, but it will be coming up sooner than later.”

The governor signaled that he doesn’t want the special session to compete with graduations and vacations.

The new measure would affect the state’s 118 quasi-governmental agencies — which include rape crisis centers and public health departments — as well as regional universities. They are struggling with ballooning retirement payments.

Bevin said Thursday that if the issue isn’t “done right,” that it will hurt “the very people we’re trying to help.”

“We’ve ignored this pending pension crisis for so long that it’s now suffocating them,” he said. “And so what we’re trying to do is balance the obligation they have to actually pay what is needed for their retirees, with their inability to do it. So you have to find some way to balance that as best you can. This is what we’re working on.”

Bevin has had a turbulent time in trying to revamp the state’s strapped pension systems. Last year, he called lawmakers back to the Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, in December to vote on a much broader pension bill that had been struck down by the state Supreme Court. Lawmakers adjourned without passing any bills. Taxpayers were left with a bill of about $120,000 for the two-day session.

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