Judge rules pension overhaul unconstitutional

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, June 21, 2018

The ongoing controversy over Kentucky’s overhaul of the pension laws has recently hit a new development.

According to an article published by the Courier Journal, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepard deemed the new law unconstitutional on Wednesday.

A breakdown of the proposal’s key points included but were not limited to:

• Teachers who have not worked for 20 years will have to work even longer to receive enhanced retirement benefits;

• All of the current teachers will still be able to retire after they have worked 27 years and will still receive the benefits to which they are entitled;

• Teachers who do not have 20 years under their belt by July 1 will have to work 35 years and reach the age of 60 before retiring in order to get their enhanced benefits. As of right now, currently working teachers receive these benefits from working only 30 years.

• After July 1, teachers will not be able to build up new sick days to use toward their retirement. Teachers will also have to contribute an additional 3 percent of their salary into their retirement health insurance funds. The new bill will also do away with the inviolable contract for new teachers as of July 1. This means that lawmakers can adjust retirement plan benefits at any given time in the future.

The ruling given by the court stated that the General Assembly botched the law as it was not in compliance with requirements of the Kentucky Constitution.

Shepard ruled that the Section 46 of the constitution was not given credence in two ways. The first reason was the legislature did not give the bill three readings on three separate days. The law requires this be the case.

The second more involved reason is that the bill deals with money. The bill needed the majority of all the members of the House to pass. It received 49 votes and needed two more to pass legitimately.

Middlesboro School Superintendent Waylon Allen said he believed the bill moved too quickly.

“The bill was too hastily passed. Everyone should have been brought to the table for discussion,” said Allen. “I do anticipate an appeal, and it is possible this will ultimately land before the supreme court.”

The case is expected to be appealed in the Kentucky Supreme Court.