Louisville Metro Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, R-18, is forgoing her government pension benefits, citing the lack of real reforms in the 2013 General Assembly.
By declining the benefits Parker is saving the city an estimated $8,500 annually and Metro Government will not have to contribute to the state pension system on her behalf.
Parker says the decisions is meant to send a message to state lawmakers, and alert taxpayers on how serious the pension problem is for Kentucky.
“It is an issue that deeply concerns me for our state and city budgets. I’m concerned that we’re not seeing a fix coming out of Frankfort,” she says. “And as time goes on it is going our state and local budgets at risk and government at risk.”
The state faces a $33 billion unfunded liability and state leaders had pledged to tackle the matter in the 30-day regular session. However, the House and Senate have very different views on to solve the problem.
In the Republican-controlled Senate, a measure was passed to create a 401(k) and cash hybrid retirement plan for new public employees. But the Democratic-led House opposes that idea, and instead wants to raise revenue for pensions by taxing the state lottery and horse racing tracks.
“Our legislators need to start acting responsibly and come up with solutions that are going to fix this problem. Otherwise it will continue to get worse and jeopardize the fiscal health of our state,” says Parker, who is was a Tea Party activist before winning the District 18 council race last fall.
Governor Steve Beshear pledged to reporters on Tuesday that legislation to shore up the pension system will be passed this year.
Parker’s decision will not effect her approximately $42,000 salary.
According to Republican caucus staff, she is the first council member to reject their pension benefits since city and country governments merged in 2003.
UPDATE: Democratic caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt says former Councilman Bob Henderson, who was a retired L&N Railroad employee, rejected his government pension in 2003.