We tried to tell you two years ago

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

The day after Republican Matt Bevin was elected governor, a teacher who voted for Democrat Jack Conway walked into her public school and ran into a small huddle of angry teachers.

"We're ready to go to Frankfort and protest!" griped one, speaking for the group. "We voted for Bevin, but we didn't know he was going to hurt our pensions."

The Conway supporter just shook her head and walked away.

I just heard the same but-I-didn't-know lament from a public school teacher who I'd bet the farm voted for Bevin.

She's as mad as the Conway-voting teachers are over the governor's bill to beef up the state's underfunded public pension system by cutting benefits for current and retired employees and forcing most new hires into risky 401(k) pension plans.

No doubt, too, the teachers who cast ballots for Bevin are as dismayed as their Conway-supporter colleagues over the double-whammy that hit the news on Halloween.

"Buried deep in Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed pension bill is a paragraph that would eliminate the legal requirement for Kentucky school districts to provide at least 10 paid sick days every year for teachers and other full-time employees," John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on Oct. 31. "Instead, the state’s 173 school districts each could provide as much or as little paid or unpaid sick leave as they chose."  

The Kentucky School Boards Association--management--didn't ask the governor to take a shot at sick days, according to Cheves. "That provision is not something KSBA requested,” he quoted spokeswoman Mary Branham. "In fact, we do have some concerns with it.'”

Well before election day, word was out that Bevin had sick days in his crosshairs. You had to be a Rip Van Winkle not to be aware of Bevin's position on public pensions. It was all over the news--on TV, in newspapers and online.

Conway and the Democrats went after the Republican hopeful on the pension issue. On Oct. 22, the Kentucky Democratic party batted out an email titled, "10 Days, 10 Ways Matt Bevin Lied To Kentucky: Pensions." 

The Kentucky Education Association endorsed Conway and warned its members about the dire threat the far-right-wing, home-schooler Bevin posed to public education and to teacher livelihoods. Bevin made no bones about his deep disdain for teachers, especially those in KEA and the Jefferson County Teachers Association, which also endorsed Conway. 

So, now the governor is all in for a pension-busting special session, probably this month. With a 27-11 senate majority and a 64-36 House edge, he and his party figure to put the screws to teachers and other public employees as fast and as easy as they ripped unions in regular session last January with a "right to work" law and prevailing wage repeal.

Bevin loathes the KEA and JCTA as much as he despises the unions of the state AFL-CIO, which endorsed Conway. 

Anyway, here’s the KDP email. I'll restrain myself, but go ahead and let it out, fellow Conway voters, "We told you so."

10 Days, 10 Ways Matt Bevin Lied To Kentucky: Pensions 

FRANKFORT, KY -- Matt Bevin has spent his campaign proving exactly why Republicans called him an 'East Coast Con Man' and a 'Pathological Liar.' That's why each day for 10 days, the Kentucky Democratic Party is highlighting the top 10 reasons why Kentuckians cannot trust Bevin to be governor. 
 
Today's reason: Bevin lied about his pension record and plan.
 
"Matt Bevin has spent his campaign lying to Kentuckians and proving why even Republicans called him the 'East Coast Con Man,'" said David Bergstein of the Kentucky Democratic Party. "Bevin claims he's a pension expert, but the truth is he lost money for retirees while charging 'above average' taxpayer funded fees -- and his plan would jeopardize Kentucky's pension system and force seniors to gamble with their retirement on the stock market.  It's all just more proof why Kentuckians do not trust a 'Pathological Liar' like Bevin to be governor." 
 
Earlier today, the Franklin County Democratic Party released a new digital ad targeting Franklin County seniors and highlighting the contrast between Bevin and Attorney General Conway on pension issues. 
 
In case you missed it, here's reason 10 voters can't trust Bevin. 
 
See for yourself: 
 
The State Journal: “Bevin’s Pension Experience Less Than Stellar.” “And while gubernatorial Republican candidate Matt Bevin has told voters his pension experience would help Kentucky’s pension systems, his former company was paid millions in fees when two pension funds it managed underperformed and one struggled to cover costs and still pay benefits.“ [The State Journal, 9/5/15]
 
Pension Expert: Bevin's Plan "Throws Pension-Holders Under The Bus.” "Siedle said Bevin’s plan 'throws pension-holders under the bus' by exposing their retirement funds to the volatility of the stock market." [WFPL, 10/16/15]
 
National Public Pension Coalition: "Bevin plan would further endanger state pensions." "The 401(k)-style accounts don't offer the same guarantee and they are also a bad deal for taxpayers." [The Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/11/15]
 
Matt Bevin’s Plan to Move Employees onto Defined Contribution Plan Would Jeopardize Financial Security of Firefighters, Police, Teachers. The International Association of Fire Fighters says plans like Bevin’s “jeopardize the financial security of those who serve in dangerous occupations.” The Fraternal Order of Police say plans like Bevin’s mean “reducing retirement benefits for employees.” And the National Education Association says plans like Bevin’s could leave teachers “suddenly unable to retire,” should the market crash. [Courier-Journal, 5/19/15; IAFF, 5/05/11; FOP, accessed 7/27/15; NEA Today, 3/23/12]
 
Republican Columnist Dyche: Bevin’s Pension Wouldn’t “Actually Solve the Problem.” “Even more important, his suggestions do not constitute a comprehensive proposal that would actually solve the problem of Kentucky’s enormous unfunded pension liability.” [Bowling Green Daily News, 3/06/15]
 
Kentucky Retiree: “Not Impressed with [Bevin’s] Candor or Honesty” on Pensions. “Fred Nett, with the group's north central chapter, asked Bevin for specifics about his plan, saying that ‘addressing the issue of new hires has nothing to do with the problem that we're currently facing.’…Afterward, said he doesn't think Bevin understands the intricacies of the pension systems. Bevin used ‘weasel words regarding what the state's contractual and moral and legal obligation is to employees and retirees who are part of KRS,’ Nett said.” Nett went on to say that he was “not impressed with [Bevin’s] candor or honesty” about pensions. [Herald-Leader, 6/26/15]