A lobbyist for the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police said components of the proposed pension bill are problematic.
Nicolai Jilek said FOP members are “extremely unhappy” about the three percent salary cut in the proposed pension bill. He said members are bothered that state employee pensions seem to be the first resort for lawmakers looking to fix state money issues. He said it is time for officials to fix the state’s budget so they don’t have to keep dipping into pension system funds.
“They kind of felt that here we’ve been paying the amount that we’re supposed to have been paying this whole time,” Jilek said. “And they haven’t been making their payments and now they want us to pay more.”
The bill would also keep benefit and cash balance plans open to hazardous employees and ensure payment of death benefits for the families of hazardous employees. Jilek said that while some parts of the bill benefit hazardous employees, not all officers are on hazardous duty retirement plans. He said the FOP is trying to break this assumption among lawmakers.
“While we appreciate the consideration for what we do there are a lot of police officers that are not on hazardous duty,” Jilek said. “So all of the big massive cuts that are on the nonhazardous side of the equation are gonna affect them.”
Jilek said roughly 47 percent of police agencies in the state were not on the hazardous duty plan in 2015. He said the only distinction between hazardous and nonhazardous officers is whether or not a city or county employing agency can afford hazardous duty plans. The plan would also suspend pension checks for retired nonhazardous officers returning to law enforcement. He said this could put a strain on smaller agencies seeking experienced officers.
Jilek said the FOP has not vetted the entire bill and does not officially have a stance on the legislation as a whole. However, he said the FOP does not think that the proposed plan is going to offer adequate retirement security for non-hazardous officers.
There are roughly 10,000 FOP members in Kentucky.