Sweeping it under the rug
Published 10:26 am Thursday, November 9, 2017
By Will Collins
Growing up, I’m sure most of you, like me, had chores at home.
If the chore was sweeping the kitchen, for example, it was the expectation any dirt in the floor was swept, pushed in the dust pan and poured into the trash. If we simply swept the dirt under the kitchen rug every day, it would build up and keep getting worse over time.
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Now suppose one evening your mother decided to shake out the rug and she discovered weeks of dirt and dust under said rug.
I’m sure the blame wouldn’t then be placed on the parent who just so happened to address the issue. I certainly know that wouldn’t work in my mother’s house.
The same can be said about the current crisis in our state regarding the pension plan system. It has been an issue building up for many years through several governor administrations yet now, fingers are being pointed to the Bevin administration as he rolls out ideas to address the dire situation.
It may be what we are accustomed to in the current times, but it’s completely the wrong way to view the problem. The mistakes that brought us to the crisis have been going on for 20 or more years. Past governors and legislators did not address the need to put enough money into the plan. The shortfall was then made worse when the funds we did have were used for other appropriations — some good, some bad.
With a struggling economy, some money went to public schools while other funds went to poor investments, all with a disregard as to how the pension funds would be replaced for the future.
In fact, in the 1990s, the General Assembly voted to raise state benefits and add in for a cost of living increase, but at no time did they address the need to fund the increase.
It appears someone forgot to water the money tree out back — again.
Fast forward to the beginning of the Bevin administration when the issues of the pension system hit the forefront, we find a governor who is ready to tackle the problem passed down to him.
From Governors Patton, Fletcher and on down to Beshear, the future of the system became worse but the insight was hidden under the rug.
Bevin and the entire administration could see the dust running from under the rug and when they lifted to shake it off, blame started flowing back towards them.
Now that they are sweeping the pension plan up and trying to resolve the issue, the “kids” are fighting back because of the way it is being addressed.
Don’t get me wrong, I will be perfectly clear here: I am 100 percent for the state employees who work hard and deserve the retirement and other benefits they have paid so much for.
But I will also attempt to remind everyone that the groups trying to fix the problem are not the ones that caused it.
Yes, you can give your input, it’s your money and future, but work with the team rather than against it.
In the end, we will all be paying for the fix, even if we don’t get the return. We are all involved.
I was once in the school system and — albeit small — I have a pension awaiting me as well.
But I have faith that the administration will get things fixed properly, I’ll just give them the needed time.
Rep. Donna Mayfield and Sen. Ralph Alvarado have our backs; let’s show them that we have theirs.
As I said, we are in this together.
A quote from Mike Huckabee is very fitting here. He said, “Things have happened with Enron and companies like that, where they’ve squandered their employees’ pension funds; I think it has brought a new level of anxiety. People don’t feel like they can trust their employer.”
You deserve to be upset, I would be, too. But when you doubt your employer, allow the new leaders to address your concerns rather than blaming them for past oversights they were not involved in to begin with.
Political enthusiast Will Collins is a lifelong resident of Kentucky and has called Winchester home for the past 20 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org