MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Republican Wesley Morgan has announced he will not support a pension bill proposed by Governor Matt Bevin and leadership of the Republican party. Morgan made the announcement on Twitter on Monday morning.
"I was elected to represent the people of the 81st District. We have EKU, Madison County school system, Berea school system, and Berea College. This bill affects every one of those people," Morgan told WKYT.
Morgan went on to say that he agrees there is an issue with the pension system, but that "more time, transparency, and consideration" is needed to tackle the problem.
"It's so broad. It is a rush to get it through, and that bothers me, and it bothers me that it is not bipartisan," Morgan added. "Anything that affects this many people's lives would be, in my opinion, something we should take our time on."
He also said there is a better way to address the problem "than to penalize public servants who paid into the system & were made a promise by legislators."
Last week, Morgan held a town hall meeting with teachers to discuss the pension problem and the proposed bill to fix it. The plan says current teachers are still eligible for their full pension after 27 years of teaching, but once they've taught that long or reach the age of 60, they will move to a 401(K)-style plan. Teachers hired after July 1, 2018, will also be on that defined-contribution plan.
Another element of the plan that has teachers concerned is the fact teachers would be required to contribute 3% of their salaries for retiree health care benefits. Also, future cost-of-living adjustments for retirees will be suspended for the next five years.
"I'm not the only one having misgivings about this," Morgan said. "If it's up to me, I would junk this whole process and start over."
Governor Bevin says this bill is essential to saving the pension system.
"Doing nothing is not an option. The pension system in Kentucky is the worst-funded system in the nation," Governor Bevin said. " Because if we don't fix it, we are going to bleed out."
"You don't hear people saying, 'Hey. Let's come up with this plan to save it, or that plan to save it.' All those opposed to doing anything, have no plan," the governor added.
He has said he intends to call a special legislative session this year.
Morgan said, "As far as I'm concerned there's no point in having a special session. I'm sure they won't call it if they don't have the votes."