FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18 / AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin announced Monday a surprise special session — beginning Monday night — in an attempt to pass a new pension bill.
Bevin criticized the Supreme Court’s decision that the passage of SB 151 was unconstitutional. Saying he had already received calls about the state’s credit rating, Bevin announced he would call a special session this evening.
SB 151, a sewer-turned-pension bill, was struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously. The justices stated that the bill did not align with the state’s three readings requirement, which states that a bill must be read on three different days in each legislative chamber.
The session will begin at 8 p.m. tonight. In a special session a simple majority — or 51 votes in the House and the 19 in the Senate — is all that is needed to pass a bill.
Kentucky has one of the worst funded pension systems in the country. The state is at least $38 billion short of the money required to pay benefits over the next three decades.
Bevin did not say what the legislature would be voting on.
Acting GOP House Speaker David Osborne said the state House of Representatives is prepared to meet and the Republican Caucus is willing to do the people’s business.
BREAKING: Gov. Bevin calls special session to start tonight at 8pm. This decision comes after the KY Supreme Court ruled against pension bill last week pic.twitter.com/WPexF7gYAL
— Conor McCue (@Conor_WLEX) December 17, 2018
Bevin issued the following statement:
“Today, I am convening the General Assembly into special session to enact vital legislation that will be a meaningful first step toward shoring up our dying pension system. We stand at the threshold of financial failure. That is not acceptable.
Kentucky’s pension crisis represents the single greatest threat to the long-term financial health of the Commonwealth. Last week’s decision by the Supreme Court to strike down SB 151, based solely on process, and with utter disregard for legal precedent and the separation of powers, has only served to create further uncertainty, fear and the likelihood of financial insolvency. Only the General Assembly has the authority and responsibility to pass laws to fix this pension debacle.
For the sake of all current and future Kentuckians, the legislature must act immediately before the Commonwealth incurs further credit downgrades that will cost tens of millions of dollars for taxpayers and further limit the Commonwealth’s ability to pay for essential services, including education and healthcare. I am confident that the General Assembly can, and will, do exactly that.
The elected lawmakers of Kentucky have a moral and legal responsibility to save the pension system from collapsing so that we can deliver on the promises made to our public employees.
The next generation is depending on the legislators of today to take swift, decisive action that will place Kentucky on solid financial footing. Time is not our ally.
The entire executive branch stands willing to assist the legislative effort in any way possible. I know that we can work together to save Kentucky’s pension system. We must not fail. We are Kentucky.”
You can view the proclamation from the governor here.