Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pension fix is dead

Where to start?

This was a vital item to pass this year. It is a crime that nothing got done. Because when your pension system is $26 billion in the hole, it is probably past time to stop digging and start filling up the hole. Last year then Governor Fletcher put together a "blue-ribbon commission" to come up with solutions to this problem. That commission did an excellent job putting together their suggested plan.

So this session the House passed their version of the plan, the Senate passed their version of the plan. Which of course means that the issues goes to a conference committee. The conference committee was put together before we left for break on April 1st. So there was about 2 weeks to get an agreement. Yet I am not sure that there were any meetings held during the break. Either way, there was no agreement when we returned to Frankfort Monday.

Fast forward to Tuesday, or our last day in Frankfort. At about 3:00pm I am hearing that the issue is dead. At 6:00 it has new life as the committee (as we are told) are meeting on it. About 8:00pm it sounds like there is an agreement. Shortly thereafter some information starts floating around about the details of the agreement. I find out later that the conference committee never met, it was leadership who apparently worked out a deal.

By 10:30, it was dead again. Why? You can see in this article from the Lexington Herald Leader, apparently the Jefferson County Teachers Association(JCTA) and the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) killed the bill with their opposition. Instead, the House gutted another bill at the final hour and put the House version of the pension bill in it to send to the Senate. Not surprisingly, the Senate did nothing with it as they thought they had a compromise agreement with the House.

Some thoughts:

Since when did the KEA and the JCTA start running the Democratic Caucus in the House? Why is it that they get to make such vital policy decisions that affect every person in this state?

I have seen the very difficult job leadership has on these issues. It is a demanding, often thankless job. So I am not questioning judgement or motives. That said, I just don't understand how an issue gets this out of control, the need for a solution so obvious, and yet it can't get done.

From what I finally saw on a 2 page outline of the compromise, it barely stopped the bleeding. There was to be more study of the issue. There is no more studied issue in Frankfort. Of course, now that will be done, there is no choice. This should be the most important issue in the 2009 session, assuming there is no special session to take it up.