Pension Reform Pitch at the State Capitol

Nov 30, 2011

Lexington’s mayor today asked state lawmakers to loosen their reigns on his city so it can enact pension reforms.   Like most Kentucky cities and the Commonwealth itself, Lexington needs to fix its pension program.  But unlike other Kentucky communities, the state must approve any pension reforms enacted by Lexington’s city leaders.  “The headline in all that is we’ve got problems there…you all know about these problems…you’ve got them at the state level to…ours is unique because you have a special legislation associated with Lexington,” said Jim Gray.

Mayor Jim Gray says Lexington’s retirement and health insurance plans for police and firefighters are underfunded by at least 400 million dollars.

“We know that our disability costs are significantly higher than the state’s and the average across the state and that needs to be addressed,” added Gray.

According to state law, Lexington alone must have any changes to its pension plans okayed by the general assembly.  Louisville Representative Steve Riggs, who chairs the House’s Local Government committee, agrees it seems unnecessary.

“Well they’re separated, if you look at state statute, it says we’re responsible for any changes in their pension system…I don’t know why no other local community, just that one…I always thought that was weird,” said Riggs.

Riggs and Damon Thayer, who’s his committee counterpart in the State Senate both favor a change.  Susan Straub, who’s a spokeswoman for Lexington’s mayor, adds there are a series of special state rules that pertain just to her city.  She adds the pension rule was enacted when Lexington and Fayette County merged their local governments.