The GOP-run Kentucky state legislature has overridden Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a pension reform bill that will place new teachers in a hybrid pension plan that incorporates aspects of a defined contribution (DC) and a defined benefit (DB) plan.
Under House Bill 258, new teachers are required to contribute more to their retirement plans than current teachers do, and they will have to work for 30 years instead of 27 to earn their maximum benefits. The new rules will become effective at the beginning of 2022.
The bill had been passed by large majority of both chambers of the legislature earlier this year, with the House passing it by a vote of 68 to 28 and the Senate passing it by a count of 63 to 34. Because the state’s Republicans have a supermajority in both the House and Senate, they didn’t have much difficulty in overriding the veto, which was one of 24 vetoes passed down by Beshear, a Democrat, that were overridden in one day.
Supporters of the bill — including numerous Republican mayors — say the answer is a clear “yes.” They argue that a number of states, particularly those that rely on service industries and tourism, have seen steep revenue declines, and local governments are facing deeper financial strains as they struggle to expand services with fewer employees.
“Many of our cities have furloughed workers, shrunk their workforce through attrition, cancelled police and fire recruitment efforts, and frozen capital budgets that build community infrastructure — all while absorbing additional expenses to respond to COVID, delivering essential services and reaching out to our communities that have been disproportionately affected,” a bipartisan group of Ohio mayors wrote to federal lawmakers last month.
But congressional Republicans, who also opposed including more state and local aid in the coronavirus stimulus bill approved in December, largely have been unpersuaded. They point to data showing some states outpacing their revenue projections, and argue that sending more financial help to states would unfairly reward those that locked down their economies instead of lifting restrictions on businesses.
Republican lawmakers are eyeing the relief dollars to fund $500 million in tax cuts, heavily targeted to multinational corporations and wealthy and retired Kansans. They also want the money for refunds to students relegated to online learning and replenishment of the state’s unemployment insurance fund, which has been depleted by a record volume of legitimate and fraudulent claims. A House committee on Thursday recommended using the federal aid to fund $500 bonuses for teachers and grants for school security.
The state Senate approved the tax cut earlier this month after growing its size from a proposed $175 million to an estimated $500 million. Though the House has not yet picked up the measure, Senate Republicans have pitched federal dollars as a way to keep it alive.
Senate Majority Leader, Gene Sullentrop, a Wichita Republican, said immediately after the vote that the final size of the cut would be dependent on federal funding.
New York State Senate Republicans, and now, a growing number of Democratic Senators, are seeking a special session in an effort to remove Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers in the wake of the report into the underreporting of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes statewide.
Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt and members of the Republican Conference called on the Senate Majority to convene a special session and strip Cuomo of his emergency powers while calling for a thorough investigation into his administration. They were later joined by 14 Democratic senators.
“This administration has shown a callous disregard for these vulnerable residents and their families for months, but this stunning admission is a horrific new low,” she said. “A full, independent investigation into the state’s handling of the COVID crisis in New York’s nursing homes needs to be launched immediately and any lawmaker who is not actively working to make that happen is complicit in the cover-up—period.”
Top New York Republicans have taken to Twitter to call for an investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and other state officials following a Thursday report that a top aide admitted the government withheld the state’s nursing home coronavirus death toll.
Several Republicans from the Empire State issued statements after the report, arguing for a probe to be launched into the government’s reported decision to withhold nursing home coronavirus data, with some going so far as to call for Cuomo to be impeached and removed from office.