Time to take a deep breath, look at the facts

When arguments become personal, emotional, and we start yelling at each other, sometimes facts get lost.  Governor Matt Bevin and teacher’s unions have both gotten lots of media lately for name-calling and fear mongering over the pension issue.

Now that both sides have vented their emotions, let’s objectively consider two facts:

First, Kentucky’s pensions are among the worst funded in the nation, $40-60 billion underfunded. Our entire state budget is approximately $12 billion.  So, filling a $40 -$60 billion hole will take decades, even if we act today. 

Second, if nothing is done to fix this, pension funding contributions for local governments, schools and quasi-governmental agencies will get significantly higher. And the increase will hit July 1.  How big will the next fiscal year increases be?  Huge.  According to projections cited by Senator Robert Stivers, “Jefferson County government will go up  $42 million, Fayette County about $13 or $14 million.”

Stivers also said school boards will a take a big hit funding pensions. “Fayette County will see a $6 million increase.” And according to Kentucky Today, Stivers also said,  “There will be other counties that will be hit with multi-million dollar assessments, because we haven’t stopped the bucket from leaking.”

So, common sense says it is better for everyone if something gets done now.

Here’s some more numbers, no opinions, just numbers. According to the National Education Association, average teacher pay in Kentucky in 2016 was $52,134. That’s higher than Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, and West Virginia.

Also, the average salary of a Kentucky teacher is almost double the $26,069 median 2015 HOUSEHOLD income for Knox County. Half the entire HOUSEHOLDS in the county don’t make as much as an average teacher.  And most Knox citizens don’t have a pension either.

Now, my opinion is, retired teachers and those working in the system now, absolutely deserve the full pension they were promised. Hopefully, everyone agrees on that.

But, teachers and their unions also need to be willing to compromise some too. I think everyone wins if we work together to fix this problem now. What do you think?