Kentucky’s pension plan for state employees is facing a major unfunded liability, which has moved the cost burden increasingly to county and local governments. School and health boards, to name a few, have struggled to balance their already cash-strapped budgets when a significant chunk of money must go into employees’ pension funds.
Long said it is important to protect the promises made to older workers, but changes must be made for newcomers in the state pension system.
“I don’t think we can continue to say we can take care of newcomers coming in,” Long said.
“We’ve got to stop the runaway train,” Smart said of the pension plan. She acknowledged that it wasn’t going to be easy, but it needed to be done. Smart also said that younger workers coming into the system may be expected to pay more into the pension plan.
Healthcare:Smart is a supporter of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“Our state will benefit (from the ACA) more than any other state in the union,” Smart said. She said in her work as an extension agent, she saw many rural families who were unable to get affordable health insurance and ended up losing their homes and farms because of medical bills.
“I think the ACA was a mistake,” Long said. She said funding for the healthcare reform was going to come from a federal fee on every bank transaction in the country, however several organizations, including the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center, have refuted this claim. A 1-percent “transaction tax” was first proposed in 2004 by one U.S. House member to replace federal income tax and eliminate the national debt, but the bill, which had nothing to do with the later healthcare bill, was never voted upon.
Long said she understands how hard it is for people to get and afford health insurance.
“I didn’t have health insurance for eight years,” Long said. “I decided to stay healthy. I raised my children to be healthy.”