COLUMN: SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW By Senator Robin L. Webb (one photo)

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robinwebb

FRANKFORT – We are less than 50 days from the beginning of the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly and it is approaching rapidly.

With a new Governor at the helm and 2020 being a budget year, it will surely be an interesting session. These changes will be crucial to the process and how it shapes the policy we will confront when we convene in January.

This week, members gathered in Frankfort for November Interim Joint Committee meetings, hearing from stakeholders and discussing a wide variety of issues. Gauging legislation can be difficult, especially when there are so many wheels in motion. I expect much of the legislation we take up next year will be relative to policy discussions that legislators have had over the course of the interim.

One issue I am sure we will revisit once again this session is pensions. In regards to the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS) the legislature made major reforms in 2008 and 2010. The previous rhetoric and proposals coming out of Frankfort suggested these changes were having little or no effect in funding the pension. Many pushed for an overhaul of the system and even attempted to move teachers into a 401k-style plan. And, after recent revelations, we now know that the reforms to KTRS in 2008 and 2010 are, in fact, working.

In a recent report released by Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon, KTRS has made significant strides. The financial audit shows its fiduciary rose to $21.9 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June, with a net increase of over $600 million. The audit also projects that KTRS will have sufficient assets to provide the benefits outlined in the inviolable contract beneficiaries if the actuarially required contribution is made by the state.

I have stated on numerous occasions that we should let these reforms manifest before making such rash policy decisions that may have possibly led us closer to insolvency. A pension is a promise. I am hopeful we will continue to see this kind of growth so long as the state contribution obligations to our teachers, administrators, and school support staff are met.

As the legislature prepares for the 2020 Regular Session, back home we are preparing for the holidays. As I return home to spend time with family, I count my blessings. I am reminded of the many oppressed around the world who cannot make simple decisions about their own lives and live in daily fear of imprisonment or death. I join many of you in being grateful to have a warm home and food on the table. There are many around the world who do not have even a roof over their heads or nourishment for their bodies.

Thankfully, in our country, there are many who are concerned for their fellow man and reach out to them to try to make their lives better. I am thankful for the generosity of the many charities and programs that assist our elderly, disabled and less fortunate.

I appreciate having a public school system that makes it possible for every child to receive an education – an education that is the foundation of a child’s future. We are fortunate to have teachers who want to see every child succeed. It is wonderful that a child can dream the impossible dream and is encouraged to reach for the stars. I’m thankful for the military, first responders – law enforcement officers, firefighters, and rescue workers that protect and serve our country and communities.

Most of all I am thankful for family and friends who are loving and supportive. Along with good food and fellowship, I hope you too can reflect on your many blessings this Thanksgiving.

With the legislative session quickly approaching, please stay in contact with me if you have any comments, questions, or concerns by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or e-mailing me at Robin.Webb@LRC.KY.GOV.

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Senator Robin Webb represents the 18th Senate District, which includes Boyd, Carter, and Greenup Counties. For more information, visit
www.legislature.ky.gov.

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