The Latest: Kentucky governor shows support for pension bill

Democratic state Rep. Rick Rand speaks against a bill to change the state’s troubled pension system on Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Adam Beam )

FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Latest on Kentucky bill to overhaul one of nation's worst-funded public pension systems (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has indicated his support for a state pension overhaul bill that passed in the face of teacher opposition.

Bevin tweeted late Thursday that public employees owe a debt of gratitude to lawmakers who voted for the bill.

The Senate voted 22-15 Thursday to approve a bill that preserves most benefits for current workers. Most of the changes would impact new hires. But the bill still drew the ire of hundreds of teachers protesting in the Capitol, with many chanting they would vote lawmakers out of office in November.

Republican Sen. Joe Bowen said the bill puts the state on a pathway to paying down its debt while assuring the system's strong financial future.

But Democratic Sen. Ray Jones said the bill would destroy everything teachers have fought for decades.

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10 p.m.

Defying angry teachers, the Kentucky Senate has approved an overhaul of one of the country's worst-funded public pension systems and has sent it to Gov. Matt Bevin's desk for his signature.

The Senate voted 22-15 Thursday to approve a bill that preserves most benefits for current workers. Most of the changes would impact new hires. But the bill still drew the ire of hundreds of teachers protesting in the Capitol, with many chanting they would vote lawmakers out of office in November.

Republican Sen. Joe Bowen said the bill puts the state on a pathway to paying down its debt while assuring the system's strong financial future.

But Democratic Sen. Ray Jones said the bill would destroy everything teachers have fought for for decades.

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8 p.m.

Kentucky teachers and their supporters are trying to make it as uncomfortable as possible for state lawmakers debating an overhaul of public pension systems.

About 200 people gathered Thursday evening at the bottom of steps to the Senate chamber as senators discussed the measure that re-emerged suddenly earlier in the day.

The protesters are chanting "We'll remember in November" — an election-year warning to the Republican-led legislature. They also are chanting "Shame on you" and "West Virginia" — the latter a reference to a recent teachers' walkout in West Virginia over a pay dispute.

The show of force comes amid growing unrest among public educators nationwide, led by thousands of West Virginia teachers who walked off the job for nine days earlier this year to secure a 5 per cent pay raise.

Last week, about 2,000 teachers and other school employees rallied at Kentucky's Capitol with the goal of burying the proposed pension overhaul.

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7:45 p.m.

The House-passed bill to overhaul Kentucky's pension system is now before the Senate for debate in a late-night session at the state capitol.

The measure would seek to preserve most benefits for public employees. Retired teachers, who are not eligible for Social Security benefits, would still get a raise of 1.5 per cent each year. And it would not change how long current teachers must work before being eligible for full retirement benefits.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers says the Senate is expected to vote on the bill later in the night and likely pass and send it to GOP Gov. Matt Bevin for his consideration. Says Stivers: "I would assume that we will accept it as is."

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7 p.m.

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill to overhaul one of the nation's worst-funded pension systems despite loud protests from public school teachers.

The House voted 49-46 to approve a bill that re-emerged suddenly Thursday afternoon. Eleven Republicans joined 35 Democrats in opposing the measure.

The bill preserves most benefits for current public employees. Teachers would still get a raise of 1.5 per cent each year. And it wouldn't change how long current teachers must work before being eligible for full retirement benefits.

The Senate began debating the bill Thursday evening, and an expected decision to pass it would send it to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's desk.

Thousands of teachers have protested in recent weeks, threatening lawsuits and a strike if the bill passes.


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