May 14, 2014

Judge-executive job would spike pension

Two members of the state legislature — Sen. Walter Blevins and Rep. Bob Damron — are on the ballot May 20, running for county judge-executive, Blevins in Rowan County and Damron in Jessamine County. The annual salary of the judge-executive in Rowan County is $86,695, and in Jessamine County it’s $98,255.

Blevins and Damron can use their judge-executive salary, instead of their legislative salary, in the formula to calculate their legislative pension, courtesy of a change in the pension law in 2005 (HB 299) — which Blevins voted for, and Damron voted against. If Blevins is elected judge-executive, and serves at least three years in office, it will more than double his legislative pension from $41,019 a year to $86,695, an estimated lifetime gain of $734,449.

 Blevins’ pension as a legislator, a part-time job, will be 100% of his pay, because he has enough years of service (32 at the end of this year) and a service credit rating of 3.5%. He “maxed out,” reached the 100% threshold, on July 31, 2008, at which time he was automatically enrolled in the state employees’ pension plan (KERS), starting a second legislative pension. Under the 2005 amendment, Blevins can replace his legislative pay with the judge-executive pay in the 3-factor formula used to calculate his legislative pension.

 If Damron is elected judge-executive his legislative pension would increase from $30,735 a year to $59,444, an estimated lifetime gain of $545,197. Damron has one opponent in the Democratic primary, Blevins has five. Former Senate President John “Eck” Rose favors one of Blevins’ opponent in a letter to the Morehead News

Editor's Note: This story was published May 12, 2014 in Kentucky Roll Call