Legislators approve budgets with raises

Henrietta Brewer
March 11, 2018

Dozens of teachers and public workers filled the cafeteria at Bourbon County High School voicing their concerns about the controversial plan to fix Kentucky's public pension systems.

They stood outside Bowen Tire and Auto on Frederica Street in Owensboro for more than an hour Saturday morning.

"My thoughts are $53 million is a great start for this year, but we need much more to combat that crisis overall", she said. This is what we have.

"This bill is the product of careful study to balance the needs of patients who have legitimate medical needs against those who have become or are at risk of becoming addicted to these powerful medications", said House Health Committee Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer.

A motion Friday in the House to suspend constitutional rules and put Senate Bill 152 up for a vote failed on party lines, with Democrats blocking majority Republicans' effort to have the budget completed going into the final day of the session.

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter. "Here's the thing: We're all calling and saying "no" to Senate bill whatever, and I thought that would do it".

Jones praised teachers for putting pressure on lawmakers.

"It's a good way forward, it reduces the risk for taxpayers, I think our bond rating agencies will be happy with it".

Meanwhile, the protests at local schools will occur Thursday as a result of organizing by KEA, the state's teacher union.

The legislative session was dominated by a nine days teachers strike, that ended with all state employees getting a five-percent raise.

"As legislators, it is our duty to make sure that our students and teachers are safe when they go to school", said State Sen. In other words, the state doesn't have enough money set aside to pay for the promises we've made to our public employees.

Jones speculated that lawmakers from rural areas were feeling pressure to vote against the bill.

"The reality is this: I'm saving the pension system".

Public-school advocates also want to know how far the changes will go in covering expenses beyond tuition, such as using funds for school supplies and online courses, said Richard Abernathy, the director of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators.

State lawmakers have taken painful steps to ensure the system is fully funded this year.

West Virginia's House and Senate have unanimously approved a budget for the state government with $4.38 billion in general revenues for the fiscal year starting July 1, including raises for teachers, prison guards and many other state workers.

But when it came time to vote on his proposal, Kinskey suddenly withdrew the amendment.

On Wednesday, Bevin said anyone opposing pension changes is "either ill-informed or willfully blind". We can't simply tax our way out of this problem; changes to the structure of retirement benefits are required.

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