FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A special legislative session to deal with Kentucky pension reform is in jeopardy.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers admitted at what many insiders has been talking about during an interview that included comments on former House Speaker Jeff Hoover’s health, the harassment scandal and paying for pension reform.
Robert Stivers passed along well wishes to former Speaker Hoover whom it was revealed was hospitalized with heart issues.
“I wish Jeff the best,” said President Stivers. “My understanding is that he had some type of heart condition that may have been a heart attack.”
The top Senate Republican said he has not directly reached out to Representative Hoover.
"I think, at this point in time, when a person is going through this type of medical emergency that he needs to be surrounded by his family and friends and not be in any way interfered with or have any types of discussions with people from Frankfort inquiring so we kind of inquire through indirect routes.”
The health concerns come just days have the House Republican Leader stepped down from his Speaker's post amid a sexual harassment scandal.
Speaker Hoover still serves in the General Assembly but questions remain about the sexual harassment settlement made in private. President Stivers said he first heard about that through news reports.
“When you get information like this, and not knowing the accuracy of this information, the first thing is, are you serious? Is this real? And then as it develops it’s disheartening,” explained President Stivers.
When asked whether he had any idea of where the money came from to pay for the settlement, Stivers answered, “This is one thing I can tell you unequivocally and without a doubt, no reservations about this statement, there were no state monies, to my knowledge used. Period. For there to have been state monies it would have to have gone through my office with my knowledge and with my sign off. And there would have been a check drawn from the State Treasury to do so. Anything that I would have signed off on would have had to have full ratification in an open meeting of the LRC. None of that has happened so, as for the use of state monies, there has been none. Period."
President Stivers said he supports the work of House Speaker Pro tem David Osborne who has taken over the role of leading the Republican House in the interim.
The scandal could not have risen at a worst time.
President Stivers and Speaker Hoover were two power brokers along with Governor Matt Bevin as members of the new majority of Republicans taking over Frankfort after last year's big election victory.
Today President Stivers admitted that their plan to call a special session for pension reform is in jeopardy.
“Is it still possible? Yes,” he insisted. I'm going to be a Cubs fan, hope springs eternal, but we can still get this done. But I'm not going to sit here and be disingenuous and say, 'oh that's a definitive no.' There's logistical problems to doing it, that's just the reality.”
A new scoring of the current plan found that the Commonwealth needs to come up with another $4B more annually to pay for the unfunded pension liability.
Where that money comes from is a huge question.
When pressed directly on the option of double-digit budget cuts, President Stivers admitted that option was on the table.
But he insists it won't come from two of the most talked about options.
“Other ideas of about legalization of marijuana, marijuana is a gateway drug,” said President Stivers. “You start with marijuana then a lot of people move on to other things and I'm not going to be in that camp either for the legalization of marijuana or am I going to be in the camp for expanded land-based casino gaming. That is not, in my opinion, an area that we need to go.”
See more of the interview with Sen. Stivers below:
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