Governor Matt Bevin assured an audience of newly-promoted Kentucky State Police officers that lawmakers “have your back” on pensions at an event in Lexington Thursday. Yet despite dire predictions if the state fails to shore up the system, the Republican says some revenue-generating ideas are effectively off the table.
In brief remarks before a KSP Promotion Ceremony, Bevin said the sacrifices of state police officers are not lost on lawmakers as they prepare to overhaul the state’s struggling pension system, and the state's commitments will be honored. It's a message Bevin has consistently offered to public employees and teachers fearing benefit cutbacks when legislators convene at a yet-to-be-announced special legislative session.
But the governor has already signaled he’s against raising taxes. And two other ideas for boosting revenue – casino gambling and marijuana legalization – also appear to be non-starters. The governor told reporters expanded gambling was unable to gain traction under former Gov. Steve Beshear with Democrats in control of the House.
"There's less appetite even now as there was then, so we could be for any number of things or against any number of things. If there's not the political willpower to get them done, they're not going to get done. And those are two things that are not going to happen in Kentucky. They're just not," Bevin told WUKY.
Many fear a rush to exit the pension system ahead of reforms, and that could include state police. Thirty-seven state troopers enrolled in the State Police Retirement System retired in August, up from eight during the same period last year.