House OKs bill to ban TennCare money to abortion providers

Protesters want legislators to find funding for the pension before cutting teachers benefits

"We talk about the pensions and everything, but it really all goes back to the students, the kids", the Rowan County teacher told WDRB News as speakers made their cases against SB 1.

That's the separate bill which would allow local governments and school boards to phase in significantly higher pension contributions as the state struggles to stabilize the plans.

They said they joined to send a message to the lawmakers.

Senator Thayer said, "I don't know what more it's going to take to convince people that our pension systems are in crisis".

Tennessee's Republican-led House has passed legislation seeking federal approval to ban TennCare payments to abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, for non-abortion services.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Tuesday he did not expect the committee - which is chaired by the bill's sponsor Sen. SB 66 is created to give them relief.

Addresses some of the more arbitrary and costlier aspects of the system for current employees, including capping the use of additional unused sick days to retire early and/or increase the amount of lifetime pension benefits; requiring new teachers to work longer before retiring with full benefits; and returning automatic cost-of-living increases (COLAs) for TRS retirees from 1.5 percent to the 1-percent COLA which was in place for decades beginning in 1967 before being arbitrarily increased in 1991.

Most of those savings would come from a temporary reduction in annual cost-of-living raises for retired teachers. Their contribution rate has not been changed in 20 years, said Osborne.

Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, predicted it will cost Kentucky taxpayers about $1 million to defend the measure from a possible lawsuit.

That was the thrust of comments on the floor Monday by Minority Leader Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, who questioned some aspects of Senate Bill 1, especially the lack of defined benefits for teachers who are not eligible for Social Security.

While the senators discussed the bill, protesters in front of the Capitol displayed their disdain for it.

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, said Republican leaders were still trying to bring some members into line on the bill but he thinks they'll have a hard time doing so. Subscribers get access to our daily email newsletter of every headline and obituary from the last 24 hours.

Jessica Page and John Leep, siblings who are both teachers and whose parents were teachers, stood in the crowd with a sign replicating the same one their parents had when they protested over pensions in 1988.

"We're not only fighting for their contract that was promised, but ours as well", Page said.

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