The Pension Bill Passed. What Happens Now?

Superintendent Ransdell shares her thoughts on yesterday’s passing of a pension reform bill:

Our school staff members have received a flood of support from our school community this morning and we are grateful!  We are truly blessed to be surrounded by a community that tirelessly helps our students, staff and school and contributes to achieving our mission in such a meaningful way.  It’s hard to find words to adequately express our appreciation for the work that our parents and community have done, and are doing, to support not only our local school but public education in general which is vital to the future of Kentucky.

This morning I have had several parents asking me how I feel about the legislation that was passed yesterday evening.  In a nutshell, as someone that has spent 28 years in Kentucky public education, I am concerned that many of us are still seeking to understand the implications of the 291 page bill, which as I understand from media reports, has not been scored and was not made available to the public until yesterday evening.  My current understanding of the legislation is that it will not force the retirement of any of our staff. It creates a new tier of benefits for new hires, but does not affect current Teacher Retirement System (TRS) members or retirees, except it caps retirement credit for accumulated sick leave for current TRS members at current levels. The bill also requires local school boards to contribute 2% to TRS for new hires, so there will be an increased cost to local school districts.

There is research-based evidence that a state’s economic growth is positively correlated to the “knowledge capital” of the state.  Cuts to public education and reductions in teacher benefits are not the answer to the financial issues facing Kentucky.  Any legislation that would support these cuts needs careful study before being implemented to determine the impact on attracting quality candidates into the teaching profession and funding resources to provide every Kentucky student a world-class education.

Throughout this legislative session I have been in support of:

  • Full actuarially required funding for TRS
  • Full funding to cover employee health insurance
  • Full funding for Flex Focus funds received by school districts
  • Remove restructuring of TRS to merit system in Personnel Cabinet
  • Add provision for CERS Contribution phase-in
  • No tuition tax credits (as added to HB6) as we do not have revenue to give away in these budget times.
  • No charter school funding that takes away funds from our current schools.

I will be studying the legislation over the weekend and traveling to Frankfort on Monday.  Many individuals have reached out to me indicating that they are interested in going to Frankfort on Monday as well.  I will send details over the weekend via the APTA Facebook page for those that are interested in carpooling.  Thanks again for all the community support and just let me know if you have individual questions or concerns.