PNS Daily Newscast - September 20, 2019 

A whistleblower complaint against President Trump sets off tug-of-war between Congress and the White House; and students around the world strike today to demand action on climate change.

2020Talks - September 20, 2019. (3 min.)  

Climate change is a big issue this election season, and global climate strikes kick off, while UAW labor strikes continue.

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Public Employees Plead with Governor to Leave Pensions Alone

Many Kentucky teachers have been opting for retiring early out of fear their pensions will be cut. (
Many Kentucky teachers have been opting for retiring early out of fear their pensions will be cut. (
October 17, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. – What Kentucky's governor and state lawmakers are going to do to solve the state's public pension crisis should be known very soon. They've been mulling over plans that include cutting payments to existing retirees and forcing most current and future hires into 401-K-style retirement plans.

That's caused a large number of public employees to decide to end their careers in recent weeks. It's also caused panic among those who aren't close to retirement age.

State Rep. Regina Huff is a teacher in Whitley County. She says her office has been flooded with calls from state employees who are worried about their financial future. She says she is as well because that's her only retirement plan.

"I am a legislator but I do not have a legislative pension," she says. "I hold a Rank 1, which is 30 hours above a master's, so it's essentially two master's degrees, and I now make $54,000 a year."

The Teachers' Retirement System has received applications from more than 120 members who have decided to retire on November first. That's up 64 percent over last year. Hundreds of other state and local government employees across the state also have decided to retire this year.

Justice Laurance B. VanMeter sent a three-page letter last week to Gov. Matt Bevin and top legislative leaders, saying the retirement plan for judges is in sound shape and should be left alone. Huff says many public employees work hard to provide needed services to their communities, and most rely on their pensions as a way to continue in a job that has a low salary.

"We go into this career knowing that we're never going to get wealthy," Huff adds. "However, we see it as a continuum of salary from the beginning of our career to the end of our lives."

A consultant hired by the state recommended sweeping changes to the pension system, including increasing the retirement age to 65 for most workers. For those already retired, the consultant recommended taking away all cost-of-living benefits that state and local government retirees received between 1996 and 2012, a move that could significantly reduce the monthly checks that many retirees receive.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - KY