The Kentucky General Assembly has passed a pension reform bill, and Governor Bevin has signed HB 1 into law.
This bill freezes our pension contributions rates for one year and provides long-term options for NKU’s participation in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS).
Under the bill, NKU has nine months to determine if we:
1. Stay in the system with no changes and be subject to future contribution rate increases;
2. Allow all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees to remain in the system and move Tier 3 employees to the defined contribution plan;
3. Exit the system, freezing all KERS pension accounts and moving all Tier 1, 2, and 3 employees to a defined contribution plan.
NKU advocated for allowing institutions to work with Tier 1 and 2 employees to determine whether they should continue their participation in KERS or not. While previous versions of the bill did allow for individual decisions for Tier 1 and 2 employees, HB1 does not. The rationale offered was that due to federal compliance and legal concerns, individual choice could not be allowed.
While the rate freeze is immediate, the university must make a determination by April 1, 2020 on which option to select. A recommendation will need to be made to the Board of Regents to determine if NKU will continue to keep its employees in KERS or have the university exit the system.
A new legislative session starts in January 2020, and we are informed that legislators may address some of these outstanding pension issues. The regular session gives us the opportunity to continue to fight for our employees and advocate for a choice before the April 1, 2020 deadline.
We acknowledge that the legislature and Governor were faced with difficult choices. We appreciate that they addressed this issue in the special session prior to the catastrophic rate increase that would have had long term negative impacts on our university and the region. By freezing the rate, we finally have stability and options to consider as we move forward.
As your president, I promise the university will be transparent during this process. Pension updates and a list of frequently asked questions can be found on our Pension Central website. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a few weeks, we will welcome new and continuing students to the fall semester, and we look forward to the implementation of our Success by Design framework. Thank you for all you do for our students and NKU.