Capitol Update: Sen. Pettey says governor’s KPERS re-amortization plan is ‘about long-term fiscal stability’

Sen. Pat Pettey said she believes Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan to re-amortize KPERS will lead to more stability in the state’s finances.

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Nancy Lusk, Rep. Brandon Woodard and Sen. Pat Pettey are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Sen. Pettey’s filing:

This year I am serving on the following committees and sub- committees: Transportation [ranking minority member], Public Health and Welfare, and Ways and Means.

I serve on these sub-committees for Ways and Means: General Government, Education, Social Services, Corrections, and Health.

I also serve on these On-Call Committees: Securities; Pensions, Investments and Benefits; Select Committee on Education Finance.

This session I have two women serving as Interns: Genevieve Prescher, a junior at the University of Kansas, and Melissa King, a sophomore at Washburn University.

Gov. Laura Kelly presented her budget on Jan. 16. Gov. Kelly outlined a commonsense blueprint for rebuilding Kansas without raising taxes. I appreciated her call for cooperation and bipartisanship as we work together to rebuild our state. Unfortunately, it appears that the Republican leadership wants to encumber revenues in order to make it difficult to fund the governor’s priorities.

The Governor’s budget adopts the Kansas State Board of Education recommendation to restore investment in Kansas classrooms by $92 million. I agree that the Legislature should act on this no later than the session’s midpoint to comply with a court-ordered deadline to fund our schools.

Foster Care, KanCare Expansion, Public Safety, and state employees’ salaries are among the Governor’s top priorities.

An issue that has raised quite a bit of conversation is KPERS re-amortization. I am a KPERS retiree. I taught for 36 years to earn my retirement benefit. KPERS serves Kansas public employees at state, school, city and county and provides a lifetime benefit at retirement.

Because of decisions made in recent years to use the KPERS fund to help pay for the Brownback tax plan the state skipped or reduced KPERS payments. As a result of these actions, the state’s employer contribution obligations will skyrocket next year and continue to increase over time, straining the Kansas budget. Gov. Kelly proposes a re-amortization of KPERS to make state retirement contributions more realistic and sustainable over time. Similarly to refinancing a house, re-amortization will “reset” KPERS payment structure, and better position Kansas to make full, timely KPERS payments in the long term. This is about long-term fiscal stability.

Gov. Kelly is on the right track. On Friday it showed that Kansas revenues were down $51.7 million. The governor said that Kansas’s financial outlook continues to be very uncertain and unpredictable. She cautioned that we must fix the damage done in the last eight years.

This next week in the Kansas Senate we will see if the Republican majority will show fiscally restrain. I believe the governor is on the right track and a recession is in our future, and we need to be financially cautious.

Thank you for the opportunity to work for you in the Kansas Senate.