Gov. Bevin says pension problem too big for marijuana legalization to solve

Published: Jan. 3, 2019 at 4:56 PM EST
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Governor Matt Bevin said legalizing marijuana is not going to be the sole solution to fixing Kentucky's underfunded pension system.

Bevin spoke on the Leland Conway Show Thursday morning to talk about what many call one of the worst-funded pension systems in the country just weeks after calling a special session to fix the problem. Lawmakers would end the session less than 24 hours later without passing any reform.

"We live in a state where historically people have promised things that they didn't have the ability to back up in exchange for political favor and the ability to get re-elected and the ability to be liked," Bevin said.

The special session was called shortly after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled a pension reform law passed in the 2018 regular session was unconstitutionally passed.

Bevin also dismissed the idea of legalizing marijuana to help fix the problem, as he estimates that revenue alone would take hundreds of years to eventually replenish the pension system.

"How big is this problem? Bigger than people can get their heads around," Bevin said.

The governor did say debates about potential revenue streams should and will likely happen. However, he believes changes to the structure of the systems must happen first. "I personally see some of these things as 'it looks good, sounds good' but doesn't even begin make a real dent in the issue without the structural changes," explained Governor Bevin.

House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D - Sandy Hook, was a critic of the Republican-led efforts in 2018, and he wants to see a more bipartisan approach for the next effort to reform pension.

"When you are talking about a complex issue like this, don't come with a piece of legislation that is going to drive a wedge. Bring the stakeholders to the table, and let them have input," Adkins said.

Adkins senses Republican lawmakers are divided on the issue, while Bevin says people need to not be afraid to make unpopular decisions if it means helping the state's finances in the long run.