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Kentucky budget director sues state pension coalition to keep actuarial analysis under wraps

Kentucky Budget Director John Chilton is suing the state's Public Pension Coalition over the group's request to review an actuarial analysis of the governor's pension reform plan that was announced in October.

The lawsuit was filed in Franklin County Circuit Court last week against Ellen Suetholz, coordinator of the coalition that represents active and retired public employees.

In November, Ms. Suetholz requested the state budget director release a copy of the actuarial analysis of Gov. Matt Bevin's pension reform plan, which called for automatically moving some future workers and eventually some active workers into defined contribution plans, among other changes. Mr. Chilton denied her request, arguing that the documents were preliminary and did not need to be disclosed.

Shortly after, Ms. Suetholz appealed to Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, who decided on Feb. 5 that Mr. Chilton had violated the Kentucky Open Records Act and gave the budget director 30 days to release the analysis.

In the lawsuit, which was filed 31 days after Mr. Beshear's decision, Mr. Chilton argued that his earlier statement on the preliminary nature of the analysis "is even more true now" than when it was made. He noted that the governor's pension reform proposal was not introduced to the Kentucky General Assembly and that legislators are currently working on a pension bill that differs significantly from Mr. Bevin's proposal.

"This is really unfortunate that the Bevin administration has resorted to suing their own constituents to get their way," said Ms. Suetholz in a news release from the Kentucky Public Pension Coalition earlier this month. "It's rather unusual for a governor to take such a drastic step to prevent disclosure of a taxpayer funded document. It seems that the governor and his administration will go to any lengths to shield any negative news coverage. This has been a complete lack of transparency on their part." Mr. Chilton and a spokeswoman for Mr. Bevin could not immediately be reached for comment.