Gov. Bevin appeals to Supreme Court in pension reform law legal battle

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's office has announced it will move forward in a legal dispute over the state's recently-passed pension reform law.

The governor's office released a statement from general counsel Steve Pitt who says the office filed an appeal Friday to bypass the Court of Appeals and go straight to the Kentucky Supreme Court in an effort to expedite the legal battle.

"Our pension system is already dangerously close to collapsing. Without the reforms in SB 151, the system will continue to decline and remain the worst funded in the nation. These are weighty issues that will impact every Kentuckian," Pitt said in a statement.

Attorney General Andy Beshear agreed with expediting the legal process, but he says the governor did not act in the interest of beneficiaries by waiting until the deadline to appeal.

“Gov. Bevin’s decision to wait until the last moment to appeal has continued to cause anxiety to our teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers and public servants who deserve better," Beshear said in a statement, "Our public servants and their families deserve a quick and final decision that protects the retirements they were promised. We are requesting the case go directly to the Supreme Court of Kentucky and be argued as quickly as possible.”

Beshear filed a lawsuit following the bill's passage for multiple reasons, and Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled the law was unconstitutional because the General Assembly passed it in violation of the three-readings requirement and the majority-vote requirement.

The Republican-backed law would move new teacher hires into a hybrid plan that puts less risk on the state but doesn't guarantee them the same benefits. Supporters say it was a necessary step to keep the pension system solvent.

Beshear has argued the law also violates the inviolable contract, which states benefits provided cannot be subject to reduction or impairment by alteration, amendment or repeal. Judge Shepherd did not rule on that argument.

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