Reactions To Ky. Supreme Court’s Decision on SB 151

Posted at 12:53 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 14:46:04-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) –  Organizations and politicians have begun reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the passage of SB 151 unconstitutional.


Statement from Attorney General Beshear:  Today’s unanimous (7-0) ruling is a landmark win for every teacher, police officer, firefighter, social worker, EMS and all our hardworking public servants. It fully and finally voids the illegal cuts to their retirement, and clearly states that the governor and General Assembly violated the Constitution. The decision is also an important win for good government and transparency. It sends a message that the Constitution does not allow lawmakers to hide their actions. Because of today’s ruling, an 11-page sewer bill can never again be turned into a 291-page pension bill and passed in just six hours. It is my hope that moving forward the governor and General Assembly will start honoring the oath each elected official takes to support and follow the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Statement from Kentucky Government Retirees: Kentucky Retirement Systems stakeholders have been vindicated. We are gratified that the Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the circuit court’s commonsense ruling that Senate Bill 151 was adopted contrary to law. During the upcoming session, we will urge legislators to think long and hard before reintroducing a bill that attacks our contract rights while producing no significant actuarial savings.

KDP Statement on SB151 Pension Bill Ruling: A unanimous decision from the Kentucky Supreme Court that Senate Bill 151 is unconstitutional sends a clear message to Matt Bevin and Republican lawmakers: you can’t change a sewer bill in the middle of the night and use it to flush the retirement benefits of our teachers, police, firefighters and other state workers at the last minute with no public input. But make no mistake, Matt Bevin and the Republicans will continue the attacks on hardworking Kentuckians and try to pass even more benefit cuts in this coming legislative session. The Kentucky Democratic Party intends to hold him accountable in 2019 and make him a one-term governor.

RPK Chair Comments on SB 151 Ruling: The chaos the Supreme Court’s overreach into the legislative branch has brought upon the legislative process will have ramifications far beyond SB 151, imperiling hundreds of bills passed using the same process and bringing a grinding halt to the ability of the General Assembly to pass compromise legislation late in session.  That said, at no point in this court challenge have the contents of the bill been called into question.  Republicans in the General Assembly took on a difficult issue and did what’s right for taxpayers and state employees to save our pension systems.  We look forward to continuing to work to handle the crippling pension crisis 90 years of Democrat rule left behind.

Statement from Stephanie Winkler, KEA President: We are very pleased about this positive decision from the Supreme Court. We’re excited for our educators, public safety employees and all public employees across the state who will not see the promise of their retirement benefits broken by a law passed in the dark of night. This was the right decision by the court.

This decision provides hope that our government works for the people. We hope this decision will restore the honesty, integrity and values that Kentuckians expect and deserve from our elected officials. Educators want to be a partner in a responsible solution that addresses pension funding and the health of our retirement system.

Public schools and public school educators are here to serve every single family in the Commonwealth no matter what zip code you live in. Our schools provide vital services for all students, and to do that right we need quality teachers and support staff.

The decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court today will go a long way in preserving our profession because we want to be able to attract the best and brightest to educate Kentucky’s children. This 7-0 decision is a complete rebuke of the deceitful and dishonest methods from those in the majority to undermine our legislative process.

KEA is proud to be the only education organization in the state that stood up for Kentucky’s educators and public employees in this legal challenge. We have and will continue to fight for the rule of law and for the best interests of educators and all Kentuckians.

SB 151 would have denigrated the teaching profession in Kentucky. It would have deterred potential educators from teaching in our public schools by stripping back our pension protections and what is rightfully ours. That hurts every student, school and community in the Commonwealth.

In many Kentucky counties, public education is the number one employer. And when so many are giving their entire careers educating our children, we should be able to assure them that what they pay into the system is theirs when they retire.

Again, we applaud this decision by the court and its commitment to preserving the rule of law and the legislative process. Kentuckians deserve that from our government.

Statement from House GOP Leadership on Pension Ruling: The process deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court has been utilized for at least a half-century by both parties to pass critical legislation, and has never been challenged until now. The consequences of today’s unwise decision will be far-reaching – particularly for the separation of powers that lie at the heart of our system of government.

While the legislature would never presume to judge the manner in which the Court conducts judicial business, we are nonetheless bound by its decision, no matter how ill-advised. This unfortunate decision now subjects decades of good legislation to potential legal challenges, while revealing a complete and total lack of understanding for the separation of powers. It disrespects the hard work done by the people’s elected representatives and ignores the constitutional foundations of the three branches of government.

Further, Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure recognizes the General Assembly’s action on SB 151 as a constitutional action in every state, having been developed by the nation’s 99 legislative bodies and their legal counsel.

Because of this disappointing ruling, state employee retirement will continue to be the most insolvent pension system in America, and will serve as a drag on Kentucky’s entire economy. Senate Bill 151 was the first step in moving our pension systems toward a new day of solvency and health. Today’s decision puts retirement checks for hardworking public employees at risk, and is a major setback to the difficult work undertaken to reverse the indecision and inaction of the past two decades. Despite this, I am committed to leading in the effort to enact a solution for the critical situation that once again faces our Commonwealth.

 From House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus: This ruling is a huge victory, and it re-affirms what I and other caucus members said in committee and on the floor when we called the House Republicans out of order and said they were breaking the law for the way they handled Senate Bill 151, the ‘sewer’ pension bill.   We said that the legislative rules and processes should not be ignored, because that shuts out the very public we serve.  This ruling also properly protects our teachers, public employees and their retirees throughout the commonwealth.  Going forward, our caucus remains firm in believing two things: That we should maintain the bipartisan pension reforms passed in 2013 and fund them.

Kentucky Public Pension Coalition: Today, the Supreme Court made the right decision. For the last two years, KPPC and our affiliate organizations have pushed back on lawmakers’ attempts to harm public employees. This decision upholds the values we place in our constitution that make sure all Kentuckians have a voice. Attacks on police officers, firefighters, teachers, and all other public employees will not be tolerated.  A pension is not a bonus.  With each and every paycheck, public employees have paid their fair share into the pension fund, and with each and every day of service to our Commonwealth, they earn their pensions.