Pension transparency

Transparency is always needed in local, state and federal government. After all, lawmakers work for us, on our dime.

That’s why we believe it is only fair they reveal as much as possible about the work they do in regard to legislation. Anything taxpayer-related that falls under the Freedom of Information Act should be shared with citizens.

That’s why we support a bill that would reveal how much Kentucky legislators collect from public pensions. Senate Bill 45, which has passed the Senate and is now in the House, would require disclosure, under the Kentucky Open Records Act, of public requirement benefits information for current and former members of the General Assembly. This would include legislative pensions and any other benefits lawmakers might draw from the systems for state workers and schoolteachers.

This legislation is fair, offers transparency and is very much needed.

Most states have laws that allow for public disclosure of information about individual public pensions.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Chris McDaniel said while most legislators don’t draw large pensions, there are “some abuses of the system” and some longtime lawmakers have inflated their legislative pensions by taking short-term jobs at high salaries in the executive or judicial branches.

Abuses within the system by longtime lawmakers, even if technically legal, are certainly cause for concern.

McDaniel is also on target when he says people have a right to know. He is correct when he says our public workers, state police, schoolteachers and taxpayers all have a right to know whether there is any conflict or whether legislators will personally benefit.

We as citizens of this state pay the salaries of our lawmakers, which is all the more reason this information needs to be made available to the public.

Apparently state Rep. Derrick Graham believes the public doesn’t have the right to know what he is collecting from public pensions as he voted against McDaniel’s bill, citing it as an invasion of a public servant’s privacy.

For those like Graham who object to McDaniel’s bill, we would simply ask: What are you trying to hide from your constituents?

The people of this state deserve transparency. We deserve to know what our legislators’ public pensions are. This piece of legislation does just that. We urge the House to pass it before the session ends and look forward to seeing Gov. Matt Bevin sign it into law.

Bowling Green Daily News

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