Bevin order aimed at blocking higher pension for Adkins

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Outgoing Republican Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order Thursday that would prevent longtime state Rep. Rocky Adkins from collecting a higher state pension due to the senior position he will assume in Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear's administration.

The executive order, coming just days before Bevin leaves office, would prohibit “pension spiking." The practice occurs when former legislators are able to calculate their pensions based on the higher-paying state jobs they take instead of their years of legislative service.

Bevin specifically mentioned Adkins in a press release announcing his executive order. The governor said it's “actuarially unsound and fundamentally unfair that a select group of individuals can enrich their own pensions" and receive considerably more in benefits than they have paid in.

Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley responded that Bevin had “returned to his attacks and name-calling" in recent days.

“All of that ends Dec. 10, when Gov. Beshear will begin to move the state forward with a tone of treating each other with respect and dignity," she said in a statement.

Adkins, in the same statement, said he refused to engage in “the negative actions and comments of our outgoing governor."

“After 33 years of service to the commonwealth, I look forward to joining the Beshear administration and working to uplift Kentucky families," Adkins said.

Beshear, the state's attorney general, defeated Bevin by a few thousand votes in last month's election, capping a hard-hitting campaign that settled their long-running political feud.

Beshear said this week that Adkins will serve as his senior adviser. By accepting the job offer from his one-time competitor, Adkins will end his decades-long legislative career. Adkins is the minority floor leader in the Republican-controlled House. He finished second behind Beshear in this year's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The “pension spiking" practice stems from a state law enacted in 2005 that allows lawmakers to spike their legislative pension using their highest three years of salary, even if that salary was earned in another government job, Bevin's office said. It has allowed some lawmakers to enrich their pensions.

“I'm asking Leader Adkins to retire from the General Assembly prior to his appointment in the executive branch so that his higher salary is not included in his final pension calculation," Bevin said. “Additionally, I'm asking the governor-elect to follow the executive order issued today and prohibit any and all pension spiking in his administration."

A question about Adkins' pension came up at the recent press conference where Beshear announced he was bringing the lawmaker into his administration. In his response, the governor-elect said: “Rocky will be entitled to the position that is provided under law, given his service, when his service ends.”

Once he takes office, Beshear could rescind Bevin's executive order.