Friday, April 6, 2007


Special session may not include pensions? What is the extra session’s point?

From Louisville Courier-Journal:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher said this morning that he still wants to call a special session for some spending items and other priorities but may not put the bailout of state pension systems on the agenda. "We’re assessing which things we would put on a special session," Fletcher said in a breakfast speech to a business group called the Lexington Forum. "I’m not ruling out calling one even before the primary at this point."

Fletcher was referring to the May 22 primary elections, in which he is seeking the Republican nomination for governor against two rivals. House Speaker Jody Richards is running against six others for the Democratic nomination. On Wednesday Fletcher appointed members of a task force to study the unfunded liabilities of retirement systems for state and local government workers and teachers and make recommendations by Dec. 1.

During the recent legislative session the Senate passed a plan to borrow more than $800 million and reduce benefits to future employees. The House rejected the plan, saying the issue needed more study. Asked after his speech whether he would put the pension issue on a special session agenda, Fletcher said, "At this point, unless I see movement coming together on the pension, I’m not sure that that could be part of the special session. But I’m not ruling it out that this time."

Fletcher said he will make an announcement soon about whether he has the authority as governor to require some emergency spending that lawmakers failed to approve. Matters he considers urgent that require legislative action, he said, would be put on the special session agenda.

Those matters, Fletcher said, could include funding for water projects and other expenses in response to the lowered water level at Lake Cumberland; some priority building projects at universities and community and technical colleges; funding for counties to conduct the likely runoff election for governor in June; exempting military pay from the Kentucky income tax; and a bill that would provide tax incentives for projects that produce alternative fuels.


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