Beshear Open To Special Legislative Session

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear says he would consider calling a special session if lawmakers can agree beforehand on a way to strengthen the state's financially troubled pension system for public employees.

"In the next few days, I'm going to have some conversations with the legislative leaders on the pension issue," Beshear said Friday. "The only way that I am willing to call a special session is if they get their acts together, and sit down with us, and we come up with an agreed-upon piece of legislation."

Lawmakers were unable to agree on a solution before they adjourned the 2008 regular session earlier this week. Without an overhaul, the state retirement system faces financial jeopardy as more employees retire. Despite the dire forecast, House and Senate leaders adjourned without an agreement.

Beshear said he will not call a special session unless legislation leaders "stand up ahead of time and say we will support this and we will pass this." The governor has become increasingly critical of the legislature, saying partisan politics had generated "dysfunction" between the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate.

"I'm not going to waste the taxpayers' money calling a special session just so we can come up and argue about it again," Beshear said. "We can settle all those arguments now. And assuming that we can settle those arguments, then I'm willing to call them back in for a minimum amount of time."

Sen. Damon Thayer has said revamping the retirement system is crucial to avoid a future "fiscal calamity." House and Senate lawmakers pushed differing plans aimed at dealing with a potential $26.6 billion shortfall.

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