FRANKFORT, Ky. — During Friday's legislative session, lawmakers openly said what people have been hearing all week: pension reform legislation is nowhere near close to being introduced.
House Speaker David Osborne first openly mentioned the lack of a deal this session during Thursday night's Kentucky Chamber Dinner, and lawmakers echoed Osborne's statement Friday.
"It's certainly not in my hope or preference that we don't have one before we leave but I think we have to be realistic," Osborne said.
Mid-afternoon, the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission announced a special bipartisan committee had formed with a goal of creating plan by February 15th.
They'll begin meeting Tuesday, January 15, while the rest of the General Assembly breaks until next month.
"I think people are serious about actually getting democrats and republicans together, stakeholders, teachers, state employees, experts and coming and saying, 'How do we fund this pension obligation and how do we make it sustainable to attract and retain good employees in the future?" state Senator Morgan McGarvey said.
As the committee works, the Bluegrass continues to see its state pensions billions of dollars in the red, and a bill that passed last year was thrown out in December, just days before Governor Matt Bevin called a special session where lawmakers went home without passing a plan.
Leaders are already hinting that the job is so big it may take a special session called after this 30-day session ends to get the job done.
"A special session is supposed to happen when you have a bill, you have agreement, you have the votes, you come in in five days and you pass it," McGarvey said. "That's not what happened last time, but if we could get a group together that could actually come up with some sort of bipartisan pension legislation, maybe it could."
The General Assembly will not return to Frankfort for three weeks, but leaders continue to push a timely solution.
"This is still a very difficult process. It's still a very timely process, [and] it's going to take a lot of work, it's going to take a lot of education, a lot of compromise," Osborne said. "It's going to take a lot of negotiation, we're not going to rush that"