Whitesburg KY

School teachers did the right thing

Kentucky teachers and state employees said Republican leaders’ pension bill was pure sewage.

As it turns out, they were right.

On March 29, four weeks after the deadline for new bills to be filed and after leadership had said the pension bill was dead, Republican leaders in the House stripped the contents from a Senate bill on sewer system regulation and substituted 291 pages on state pensions.

The Capitol doors were locked, and the House approved the substitute bill 49-46 only three hours after the changes were introduced. Representatives sent it to the Senate, which passed it 22-15. It had passed both houses on largely party-line votes at 10:15 p.m. on the last day of the legislative session, a day intended only for concurrence votes on bills already passed by one house. The public never got a chance to read it, and many legislators say they didn’t either.

Gov. Matt Bevin, who called teachers thugs, ignorant and selfish because of their opposition to the changes proposed for pensions, praised legislators who voted for the sewage bill, and said Kentucky citizens “owe a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men and women who did the right thing.”

We find that Governor Bevin has a curious definition of “the right thing.”

Was it “the right thing” to lock the public out of the Capitol while their business was being conducted?

Was it “the right thing” to sneak an amendment into an unrelated bill when opponents of that language had been told it was dead?

Was it “the right thing” to vote on a bill that no one had time to read?

Was it “the right thing” to approve a bill when an actuarial analysis had not been done, as the law requires?

Was it “the right thing” to dissolve the “inviolable contract” between teachers and the Commonwealth?

Was it “the right thing” to cut death benefits for state employees by $5,000 each?

It’s difficult to see where Republican legislators did “the right thing.”

Letcher County’s Rep. Angie Hatton and Sen. Johnny Ray Turner did the right thing. The two stood up against the majority’s shenanigans and voted against the changes to the pensions.

Teachers here and around the state did the right thing when they stayed home and shut down many school districts last Friday in protest of the bill.

They did the right thing this week when they marched on Frankfort by the thousands Monday and let state officials know in no uncertain terms what a rotten deal they received.

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