Do you want to live in a community that has no one addressing the Hepatitis A public health epidemic? No access to mental health and addiction services? Where victims of domestic violence or rape have nowhere to go? Where children who are victims of abuse have no services available to them? These are all services known as the public safety net…there to provide basic services like disease prevention…there to catch our most vulnerable Kentuckians to save them from one kind of disaster or another…there to provide necessary services and supports and advocacy. The agencies that provide this wide range of services are known as “quasi-governmental” agencies…they are associated with government and carry out critical public services, but are not state agencies. The public safety net includes local health departments, community mental health centers, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and children’s advocacy centers. They are a vital, integral and necessary part of communities across the Commonwealth. And they are in danger of going away!

What Can You Do to Save the Safety Net?
All legislators – but particularly legislative leadership in the House and in the Senate – need to hear NOW from YOU and others that you do not want this to happen. They need to hear from thousands of Kentuckians who will be impacted by the loss of these services!

Call the Legislative Message Line – 1-800-372-7181 – Monday, March 25th through Thursday, March 28th when the legislature reconvenes with this message:

TO: Your Representative, Your Senator and All Members of House and Senate Leadership

MESSAGE: I am very concerned about losing the safety-net services of quasi-governmental agencies. Please continue the freeze on their pension contribution at their current rate and encourage the Public Pensions Working Group to continue their work to come up with a more permanent solution!

If You Want to Learn More About How We Got Here…Read On: Most of these quasi-governmental agencies – many of which make up the Public Safety Net – are part of the KY Employees Retirement System (KERS) and have been for years. Each of those years, the state has told these agencies what their employer contribution needed to be for their employees to be in the system. And each year, all of these quasi-governmental agencies have paid their required contribution. The amount of that required contribution has grown significantly over the past dozen years, from 5.89% in FY 2006 to 11.61% in FY 2010 to nearly 40% in FY 2016 to 49.47% in FY 2018. That means for every dollar in salary that a quasi-governmental agency pays a staff member, it also pays almost 50 cents into the state’s pension fund.

In the most recent budget session (2018), the state set the employer contribution rate at 83.43%. This was completely unsustainable for the quasi-governmental agencies and they pleaded for relief from the legislature.

The General Assembly responded by freezing the contribution rate for these agencies at the 49.47% rate to give them and the pension system time to come up with a long-term solution. There has been much discussion between the leadership of the quasi-governmental agencies, legislators, and pension system personnel to arrive at a “fix.” Unfortunately, one has not yet been reached. So, the “ask” during this year’s session from the quasi-governmental agencies was to extend the freeze for another year in order to keep the agencies sustainable and to give the legislatively-appointed Public Pensions Working Group time to continue their deliberations and to issue their recommendations in December.

Unless the freeze at 49.47% is given to the quasi-governmental agencies, many of them will become insolvent, will lay off workers, will cut programs and services, and may have to file for bankruptcy. The end result will be communities all over Kentucky who will no longer have their safety net in place and Kentuckians whose lives have been harmed.