Today’s “State in Giant Pension Trouble”: Kentucky’s $43B Shortfall


FRANKFORT – In 2000, Kentucky’s public retirement plans were fully funded. Since then, they’ve accumulated nearly $43 billion in debts — making Kentucky’s pension system one of the worst-funded in America.

Determining exactly how Kentucky got into this mess is a complicated exercise, partly because the reasons vary among Kentucky’s distinct pension plans for teachers, state government workers and local government workers.

But here — in simplified terms — are some primary reasons:

General Assembly underfunded

During most of the years between 2003 and 2016, governors did not recommend, and the General Assembly did not appropriate, enough money for state employee and teacher pensions. The systems’ actuary listed the amount of money needed to pay benefits while controlling debts, but it wasn’t heeded.