The state Senate decided to not take a vote Friday on a controversial bill that would overhaul Kentucky’s ailing pension systems. Teachers and other public workers descended on Frankfort to protest the legislation.
Senate President Robert Stivers said as late as Thursday evening that there were enough votes to pass the bill, which would alter benefits for state workers, especially teachers.
But after hours of closed-door meetings on Friday, Stivers said the Senate’s Republican majority wanted more time to consider the issue.
“Our caucus members want to have a full discussion about the implications of the bill,” said Stivers.
Senate Bill 1 was sent back to the State & Local Government Committee, which could still alter the legislation in order to address the concerns of lawmakers and public workers who are opposed to the bill.
If it ever passes the Senate, it’d still have to pass the House, where the current bill’s chances are even less likely.
Lawmakers have a little more than two weeks to pass a bill before Gov. Matt Bevin’s designated “veto period.”
Current and retired teachers chanted “In November, we’ll remember”, a reference to this fall’s election. About 200 educators gathered an hour before Friday’s session began and made their voices known after the senate went in. Madison County middle school teacher Lesley Buckner had harsh words for Governor Bevin. “It seems that he is out to get us since he took office. I feel that he is on a mission to destroy public schools. And if this bill goes through, it will hurt the children of Kentucky cause we can’t attract new teachers to our state, if there is nothing to attract them,” said Buckner.
Among the sign carrying teachers, was Rick Staviski who is an instructional aid in Bath County. “I support every teacher that I work with. These teachers work hard. They do a lot for our kids. They’re great teachers and they deserve what they were promised. The way I see it,” said Staviski.
Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler says a teacher strike is illegal in Kentucky. But, if the measure wins final approval, Winkler says legal action is almost certain.