Gov. Matt Bevin’s legal team filed in Franklin Circuit Court yesterday their official response to Attorney General Andy Beshear’s political lawsuit against Senate Bill 151, Kentucky’s recently enacted pension reform law.
SB 151, the Commonwealth’s most meaningful attempt to protect the pensions of Kentucky’s public workers and teachers, was passed by both houses of the General Assembly on March 29 and signed into law by Gov. Bevin on April 10. Less than 24 hours later, the ever-opportunistic AG Beshear brought suit against the measure.
In a 95-page brief citing dozens of pertinent legal precedents, the Governor’s team answered point-by-point AG Beshear’s flimsy arguments and unsubstantiated factual allegations.
“The ultimate question for this Court is whether it wants to move the Commonwealth backward in the direction of fiscal irresponsibility and insolvent pension systems,” noted the Bevin Administration brief, “or whether it wants to join the recent [national] trend of marching toward prosperity and solvent pension systems….”
Gov. Bevin’s legal team implored the Court not to “turn its back” on Kentucky public employees and retirees, pointing out that a ruling against SB 151 “will only hasten the decline of the pension systems.”
If AG Beshear’s lawsuit were to succeed, there would be significant detrimental consequences for those relying on pension checks from the Commonwealth. Future legislatures would not be legally bound to make full actuarially required contribution (ARC) payments to the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (TRS) nor held to level-dollar funding requirements to ensure plan solvency—jeopardizing the retirement security of tens of thousands of Kentuckians.
Despite claims to the contrary in his political road show across the state this spring, AG Beshear’s lawsuit does not even allege that a single provision of SB 151 violates the inviolable contract rights of a single current or retired teacher.
Moving forward, new teachers will be placed into a hybrid cash balance plan—a change that the state teachers union’s own actuary admitted may provide a better benefit than the current system.
“It’s a shame that the Attorney General is more concerned with protecting his family legacy than looking out for the best interest of Kentucky’s hardworking public employees,” said Bevin spokesman Woody Maglinger. “After his father [Gov. Steve Beshear] spent eight years underfunding the pension system by billions of dollars, AG Beshear is now playing politics with an issue that is vital to the financial security of individual retirees and the Commonwealth as a whole.”
Oral argument in this case before the Franklin County Circuit Court is set for June 7.
Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne also filed a brief yesterday in support of SB 151.
A copy of the Bevin Administration’s filing can be downloaded here.