Wow. Lowell Reese has taken three weeks to come up with a post on his blog, but the result is well worth the wait. His analysis of how Governor Steve Beshear is working to get a slots bill passed before the 2010 session is old time analytic journalism at its best. Turn a red chamber blue by luring away senators with juicy jobs and juicier retirement packages.
Reese documents how the Law of Unintended Consequences may weaken the Republican majority in the Kentucky Senate. It seems a little known law passed in 2005 under Governor Ernie Fletcher allows legislators with the time in to retire to work in government for three years and use their full time government salaries as their “high three” to calculate their retirement pay. It’s what lured Charlie Borders into taking a job with the PSC – a four year gig. His retirement will be based on PSC salary, not his salary as a legislator - a three fold increase in benefits.
According to Reese writing on his blog, Kentucky Roll Call, “Sen. Ken Winters’ legislative pension, once he retires from the legislature, would be based not on his pay as a senator but on his pay as a university president. The difference can be substantial, obviously.”
Reese recounts the Class of ’91 and which of the four remaining senators may be in line for a switch to the executive branch:
…A review of the Senate roster reveals that the twin tests of tenure and voter performance indeed narrow the field exclusively to the 1991 freshman class of Borders, Buford, Kelly and Leeper.
Borders is gone, and Kelly is next (it’s widely believed). The governor will appoint him to the bench maybe as early as two or three weeks after the Borders’ special election, some believe. Kelly would become a circuit judge…”
The math works out to a million dollars in retirement benefits. That may be enough to switch the Kentucky Senate from red to blue.
But, as Reese points out, when a Republican returns to the governor’s office, it might work against the Dems and switch the House from blue to red.