Gov. Matt Bevin’s newfound confidence that he has enough votes to pass a pension-relief proposal eerily reminds us of the ’80s Ian Hunterpenned Great White classic “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” In other words, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
A Bevin aide said last week that the governor is confident enough in legislative support for the proposal that he will soon call a special session — which would be the second in less than nine months.
Haven’t we been down this road before? In December, just before the holidays and three weeks before the January session was slated to start, Bevin hauled lawmakers back to the Capitol for an uneventful two days that ended up costing taxpayers roughly $122,000 — after the pension legislation he signed in the 2018 regular session was struck down by the state Supreme Court on procedural grounds cited by Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd.
Now, after an April veto of a pension measure passed by the GOPdominated legislature on the final day of this year’s regular session, Bevin has plans for another special session this summer. Originally the governor said the session would be called prior to July 1. However, Bryan Sunderland, Bevin’s deputy chief of staff and key liaison with lawmakers, said that any June date would be “very ambitious” and they are looking ahead to next month.
Unlike the last special session he called when he warned legislators that their inaction could lead to the state’s financial ruin, Bevin seems to be taking a different approach this time around, telling lawmakers there is still time to pass a replacement pension law for regional universities and other quasi-governmental agencies that stand to be hammered by pension obligations come July 1.
The current crisis raises the question of why the General Assembly didn’t get the solution right in the regular session, assuming Bevin was correct in vetoing that bill.
Perhaps more energy should have been devoted to pension reform rather than to questionable legislation like Senate Bill 150, a less-lenient deadly weapon law that allows gun owners to carry a concealed handgun without proper training or a permit.
We hope Bevin’s confidence is well placed. If the proposed summer session is anything like last year’s, lawmakers won’t get anything done anyway.
— The State Journal, Frankfort