Hundreds of teachers rally in western Kentucky against Senate Bill 1


Kentucky Teachers Fighting Pension Cuts

Teachers Jessica Page and John Leep III found themselves rallying for the same cause that brought their parents to Frankfort almost 30 years ago to the day on Monday as they urged lawmakers to protect pension benefits for public workers.

Senate Bill 1 would cut benefits for some retired teachers while making structural changes some lawmakers say are necessary to save the retirement system from collapse.

"God help us", Kerr wrote in a Facebook post that has been verified by The Associated Press.

The pension bill would temporarily cut annual cost-of-living raises for retired public school teachers to 1 percent from 1.5 percent.

SB 1, if passed, would place newly hired teachers into cash-balance pension accounts similar to those offered to new state workers.

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Senate Bill 1 would save taxpayers an estimated $3 billion dollars over the next 20 years. He said he didn't know when the bill might come up for discussion or amendment in the committee. But when the Senate couldn't pass the bill Friday, most were surprised.

"At this point and the way that it's going I don't think we're going to want them to be teachers either, which is the saddest part", Page said. The slow progress has frustrated Gov. Matt Bevin and other Republican leaders, who have just 11 legislative days left in the session.

That show of force has the Leep siblings more energized than ever to continue fighting to protect retirement benefits like their parents, who were also teachers, did nearly 30 years ago.

But it is not common for lawmakers to complain about the practice publicly, as Kerr did on Tuesday.

"I didn't expect this many", Wiles said when overlooking the crowd of supporters holding signs along the road.

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Nicolai Jilek, president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police, said lawmakers have told him the line-of-duty death benefits bill would not pass unless they supported the pension bill.

Ashley Rodman's husband, officer Nick Rodman, was killed in Louisville previous year.

House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chair Steve Rudy said the bill wasn't voted on because he was amending the legislation with the sponsor. Rudy agreed to meet with them.

"There is no retaliation", Rudy said. "I'm trying to work to shape good policy". Joe Bowen of Owensboro, the pension bill's chief sponsor. Monday, the Senate sent back to committee Senate Bill 66, a companion measure to the pension reform which would allow local governments, school boards and quasi-governmental agencies, like mental health boards, to phase in the much higher pension contributions which will be required to bail out the pension funds. The committee is supposed to meet Wednesday, but the bill is not on the agenda.

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