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April 27, 2011

UPDATED: Current Pension Culprits

The Kentucky Club for Growth was not around to score legislators in 2005.

If we were, we would certainly have included HB 299 on our scorecard that year. HB 299 changed the way legislators qualify for their dubiously-earned pensions in a way that radically benefited any legislator who held another job that was eligible for a non-federal government pension.

As described by Kentucky Roll Call, HB 299 allowed legislators to enrich their pensions...

...through a little-known law they passed in 2005 without any public hearings, in seemingly a planned maneuver to take advantage of the confusion during the mad rush of bills in the closing days of the session.

The main element of the bill allows legislators to base their legislative pensions on the average of their highest three years of taxable income in local or state government jobs after (or before) their legislative service.

Roll Call provided a few examples of how it worked:

Rep. Harry Moberly, had a second pension at KERS, but he dropped that plan so he could enroll in the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System -- not as a legislator -- but as an Eastern Kentucky University employee.

This means Moberly's legislative pension will be based on his university salary, not his legislative pay. As a result, his legislative pension from serving part-time as a member of the General Assembly for 25 years will be at least $168,000 a year, a lifetime increase of around $2.4 million.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo's four years as attorney general boosts his legislative pension about $1.1 million

Sen. David Boswell's four years as commissioner of agriculture boosts his legislative pension about $700,000

Former Rep. Joe Barrows' Homeland Security job, which he started last month, will boost his legislative pension about $850,000

Former Rep. J.R. Gray's $136,000-a-year job as secretary of the Labor Cabinet boast's his legislative pension about $1.8 million -- all for working three years.

UPDATE: In 2010, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, Damon Thayer and Jack Westwood introduced legislation that would have undone HB 299. (RS10 SB 51, scored on our 2010 Legislative Scorecard) Additionally, Representatives Brad Montell, CB Embry, Brent Housman and Tim Moore introduced HB 54, a more ambitious piece of legislation that would have completely closed the legislative pension plan and put legislators on a defined-contribution plan. House leadership killed both bills.

Who are the heros and who are the culprits among current officeholders?

These are the legislators who happily never supported HB 299 in 2005:

Rep. Royce Adams (D); Sen.* Joe Bowen (R); Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R); Rep. Dwight Butler (R); Rep. Mike Cherry (D); Rep. Hubie Collins (D); Rep. Jim DeCesare (R); Rep. Bill Farmer (R); Rep. Melvin Henley (D); Sen.* Jimmy Higdon (R); Rep. Dennis Keene (D); Rep. Jimmie Lee (D); Rep. Stan Lee (R); Sen. Bob Leeper (I); Sen. Vernie McGaha (R); Rep. Tom McKee (D); Rep. Rick Nelson (D); Rep. Fred Nesler (D); Rep. Darryl Owens (D); Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo (D); Rep. Tanya Pullin (D); Rep. Rick Rand (D); Rep Tom Riner (D); Rep. Jim Stewart (R); Rep. Tommy Thompson (D); Rep. Tommy Turner (R); Rep. Jim Wayne (D); Rep. Brent Yonts (D)

Those in bold not only voted against HB 299 originally, but also voted for SB 51 in 2010 to repeal it.

Then we have legislators who supported the bad 2005 HB 299, but at least have since voted to undo it:

Sen. Tom Buford (R); Sen. Carroll Gibson (R); Sen. Ernie Harris (R); Sen. Alice Kerr (R); Sen. Dan Seum (R); Floor Leader Sen. Robert Stivers (R); Sen. Damon Thayer (R); Sen Jack Westwood (R); Senate President David Williams (R); Sen. Ken Winters (R)

These legislators are the ones who supported this awful legislation originally, and didn't vote on SB 51 in 2010.

Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D); Rep. John Arnold (D);Rep. Tom Burch; (D)Speaker Pro-Tem Larry Clark (D); Rep. James Comer (R); Rep. Tim Couch (R); Rep. Jesse Crenshaw (D); Rep. Ron Crimm (R); Rep. Mike Denham (D); Minority Caucus Chair Rep. Bob DeWeese (R); Rep. Ted Edmonds (D); Minority Whip Rep. Danny Ford (R); US Representative Brett Guthrie (R); Rep. Jim Gooch (D); Rep. Derrick Graham (D); Rep. Keith Hall (D); Rep. Dennis Horlander (D); Rep. Joni Jenkins (D); Rep. Tom Kerr (R); Rep. Charles Miller (D); Rep. Lonnie Napier (R); Rep. Marie Rader (R); Rep. Jody Richards (D); Rep. Steven Riggs (D); Rep. Steven Rudy (R); Rep. John Will Stacy (D); Rep. Susan Westrom (D)

And these are the Senators who not only voted for HB 299 originally, but voted against repealing it in 2010!

Sen. Walter Blevins (D); Sen. Julian Carroll (D); Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D); Sen. Ray Jones (D); Sen. Gerald Neal (D); Minority Leader Sen. R.J. Palmer (D); Sen. Joey Pendleton (D); Sen. Jerry Rhodes (D); Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D); Sen. Tim Shaughnessy (D); Minority Caucus Chair Johnny Ray Turner (D); Sen.* Robin Webb (D)

The asterisk '*' indicates current Senators who were members of the House of Representatives at the time.

From Kentucky Roll Call:

The 2005 "reciprocity bill" enriches legislators so much it makes the 1982 "greed bill" pale in comparison. And it handed the office of the governor a new tool that he and all future governors can use to sway legislators on votes and even to resign their seats, as former Sen. Charlie Borders did last month.

In short, the bill has changed the dynamic of legislative politics -- and lobbying. Recently, a source told me, "A lot of legislators have asked the governor for jobs."


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03/29/12 : RS12 HB 499 - KEY VOTE - Insurance Premium Tax Hike

03/29/12 : Lip Service to Kentucky's Debt Problem

03/19/12 : RS12 HB 202 - KEY VOTE - A Health Care Mandate Without Precedent

03/15/12 : RS12 SB 10 - KEY VOTE - A Constitutional Amendment to Guarantee Legislative Oversight of Regulations

03/15/12 : RS12 SB 4 - KEY VOTE - Improving Regulatory Accountability

03/12/12 : Clarifying Redistricting, Maybe

03/08/12 : House Passes Budget Quickly with Eight Percent Spending Increase

Lexington Herald Leader 5/10:

"Thayer, 44, responds by calling Hostetler "a little desperate." Thayer touts his conservative support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the National Rifle Association, the pro-business Kentucky Club for Growth (which ranks him best among 38 state senators) and the anti-abortion Kentucky Right to Life."

Last weekend, the Kentucky Club for Growth's strong anti-tax stance was recognized in the Courier Journal.

But other political experts say they aren't convinced outside groups will want to get involved, especially with public polling showing Beshear with a double-digit lead and Williams' record of occasionally supporting tax increases failing to excite conservative groups such Club for Growth or the tea party-related FreedomWorks.

"They're adamant about the 'no tax' thing," said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor with the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

We are adamant about the 'no tax' thing, and we will continue to be the taxpayer's advocate in Frankfort.

Drees: Raise gas tax to fund bridge - Pat Crowley,

Ky. House nears tax vote - Pat Crowley,

Donor records might have similarities - Lexington Herald-Leader

Club for Growth launches in Oregon

The Kentucky Club for Growth is proud to announce its 2007 scorecard rating members of the Kentucky General Assembly on fiscal issues.

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The KY Club for Growth seeks principled candidates who are committed to the following:

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