Large number of Kentucky teachers hold rally against pension changes

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A large number of Kentucky teachers and other public workers were in Frankfort Monday holding a rally against proposed pension changes which could alter their retirement plans.

The rally brought hundreds of teachers to the capitol building voicing their concerns about the proposed pension reform bill, or Senate Bill 1.

"This is just not right for legislators to think about taking away benefits we've been promised," said Rhonda Lewis, of Carter County.

The capitol steps were packed with people - hundreds of them - many wearing red and carrying signs.

"We are working for what we have earned," said Jamie Lawson, of Floyd County, "and we believe that we've paid into this system and we deserve paid back in our retirement."

People came from all over the state to attend Monday's rally. They said they went to send a message to lawmakers.

"We're the ones who put you in, and we can also not vote you in," said Melody Epley, of Muhlenberg County. "So please make the right decision."

A Senate committee approved the pension reform bill, but the Senate chose on Friday not to vote on it, sending it back to the committee.

One concern some teachers have is they do not receive Social Security, which makes their pension plan increasingly important for retirement planning. Many at the rally said that instead of cuts, they want lawmakers looking for new revenue to bring in more money to pay for their pensions.

"When all of us retired, we felt like we would have a retirement system that would take care of our needs for the rest of our lives," said Glen VanWinkle, a retired teacher and administrator from Rockcastle County.

Rally-goers also said they are concerned that changes to the pension system would hurt the state's ability to get and keep good teachers.

The bill that was up for consideration would strip some teachers of their cost of living adjustments.

Supporters say the bill would have saved Kentucky taxpayers $3.2 billion over 20 years. Kentucky's pension system is one of the worst-funded in the country.

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