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‘SOTC’: As Special Session Looms, ‘Quasi-State’ Agencies In Spotlight

Posted: 10:46 AM, May 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-12 11:05:43-04

(LEX 18) — On “State of the Commonwealth” this week LEX 18 looked at the pension crisis and the possibility that Gov. Matt Bevin might call another special session to address it.

The plan would be to deal with one subset: the agencies that cannot afford to stay in the system much longer.

Often called “quasi-state” agencies, they include local health departments, rape crisis centers and regional universities, such as Eastern Kentucky University.

Experts say rising contribution rates toward the retirement system could force many of these agencies to shut down.

House Bill 358 in the last legislative session was supposed to address the issue. It would have allowed these agencies to leave the system in exchange for paying off their debts over time.

But Bevin vetoed that bill, leaving leaders of organizations such as Safe Harbor, a domestic violence shelter, feeling anxious about the future.

“How many sleepless nights we’ve had? A lot. Because not only are we responsible for thousands of women and children and men, but we’re also responsible to our staff,” said Ann Perkins, Safe Harbor’s executive director. “They are taxpayers too, like everybody else. So we’re a very crucial part of the economy in Kentucky.”

Recently, Bevin sent a letter to state lawmakers in an effort to build support for his bill, before he calls a special session.

In the three-page letter, the governor admits he doesn’t yet have the votes he needs.

Lawmakers on both sides have indicated they’re not yet ready to support the governor’s proposal.