Pension Reform Not Really A Thing In Frankfort

There were some great lines this week in the world of Kentucky politics, most uttered in Frankfort but at least one from a Washington pol. [Ronnie Ellis]

A rise in exports and lower imports of oil helped push the trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, suggesting the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated. [Reuters]

Eastern Kentucky University will lay off employees as it seeks to reallocate 10 percent of its budget, outgoing President Doug Whitlock announced this week. [H-L]

Rand Paul would like you to know that he also makes giant piles of excrement, because he of manliness we guess, and then he goes on like a one million hour “rant” (if you can rant while also putting people to sleep) about why should there be choice in abortion if Rand Paul does not have choice in the matter of energy-saving toilets. [Wonkette]

‘Ambitious’ has been a mild descriptor of the common wisdom about what’s in store for this year’s short-session agenda. Because neither real tax reform nor real pension reform are going to happen in Frankfort. [LRC]

Of course Kentucky has one of the worst credit ratings on earth. No one in Frankfort could give two flips. [Business Insider]

Kentucky Government Retirees are unhappy with Senate Bill 2. We are bitterly disappointed that the Kentucky Senate today passed a so-called pension reform bill before reviewing a required actuarial analysis and after being told that the Kentucky Retirement Systems could not possibly implement a new cash-balance pension benefit tier on July 1. Evidently the question of implementation didn’t even occur to the bill’s sponsors. Notwithstanding this information, a compliant Senate has bulldozed ahead, mistaking haste for decisiveness. Senate Bill 2 utterly fails to address the pension problem – the massive unfunded liability. We hope the General Assembly will ultimately recognize that the only path forward is identifying a dedicated revenue source to accelerate required state contributions. Failure to act this year could lead the Kentucky Employees non-hazardous fund into chaotic insolvency in just a couple of years. [Press Release]

A firestorm on the right has greeted a new Karl Rove-backed super PAC aimed at knocking off weak conservative Senate candidates and protecting strong incumbents in GOP primaries, but the new PAC may well prove to be a plus in the eyes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. [HuffPo]

A major element of the proposed reform bill intended to slash Kentucky’s massive pension debts will actually cost the state millions of dollars more, according to new state retirement calculations. [C-J/AKN]

The controversy over President Obama’s targeted-killings-by-drone policy is a reminder that the default position of presidents in times of crisis is generally to side with national security over civil liberties. [NPR]

It has been nearly six months to the day since a man was shot and mugged in downtown Lexington. Officers now say the case has gone cold. [WKYT]

From the way senators talked about the drone program at the John Brennan hearing Thursday, you’d think Congress has been hauling in White House officials to explain the program in the light of day again and again. [Politico]