Teachers voice concerns over GOP pension plan at Madison Co. forum

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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - After Gov. Matt Bevin announced a plan Wednesday to save Kentucky's pension system, teachers have voiced concerns over the GOP plan.

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 moved to 401(K)-style plan. Teachers hired after July 1, 2018 will also be on that defined-contribution plan.

READ MORE: Governor announces “Keeping the Promise” plan to save pension systems

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. In addition, future cost-of-living adjustments for retirees will be suspended for the next five years.

To some, they say they feel robbed.

"We don't expect a high salary, but we do expect good benefits," said Dr. Dorie Combs, a retired EKU professor. "We were promised these benefits that we would be cared for until we die."

Several teachers took the mic Monday at a forum held in the auditorium at Madison Central High School. Rep. Wesley Morgan (R- Richmond), Rep. Donna Mayfield (R- Winchester), and Sen. Reggie Thomas (D - Lexington) were in attendance.

When teachers asked their Republican representatives about the plan, Rep. Morgan and Rep. Mayfield said they could not answer many of their questions because there is no bill yet and they are not part of the discussion at this point.

Among their questions, teachers asked how the new plan will be funded and why tax reform was not discussed before pension reform.

"To take and berate us and tear us down constantly and now take more of our money, just doesn't seem right," said Susan Cintra, a Madison Central High School teacher.

Some teachers told WKYT they worry about the future of their profession, saying with modest salaries and a changing system, young people will be discouraged from teaching. On the other side of things, there is fear many teachers will decide to retire early.

"Oh, I am sure it's going to happen," Combs said. "I'm sure it's already happening because I have heard people say, I'm too worried about this. I'm going to go ahead and retire now and that way I am sure I know what I'm getting."

Gov. Bevin said he will call a special session to tackle the pension issue as soon as possible. If the proposal passes, it will go into effect July 1, 2018.

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