Less than a week after Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer warned that the city would have to raise taxes or cut services to pay for rising pension costs, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin criticized the Democrat for apparently failing to address the issue sooner.
In a letter delivered to Fischer on Wednesday, Bevin accused him of being “oblivious” to the budget challenges, and referred to media reports that some Louisville Metro Council members said they were unaware of the seriousness of the situation.
Last week, Fischer proposed cuts to city services from police to parks. He said that would help pay for rising health care and pension costs for city workers, which he expects to contribute to a budget shortfall of $65 million over the next four years. He is expected to announce an option to increase the insurance premium tax in Louisville as an alternative measure on Wednesday afternoon.
Bevin pushed back on Fischer’s characterization of the pension shortfall as a mandate from Frankfort.
“Instead, it is a fiscal and moral imperative that must be met by cities, counties and school boards across Kentucky, including Metro Louisville, the largest community in the Commonwealth,” Bevin wrote.
He faulted decisions made by previous administrations for allowing Louisville Metro and other employers to make inappropriately low pension contributions in recent years.
Fischer, who has addressed the pension crisis in speeches, at events and in interviews since late 2017, has been putting out social media messages to highlight that since last week. On Tuesday, he posted a video supercut of times that he and members of his administration spoke about the increasing pension burden.
Louisville Metro is an effective and efficient operation, and we’ve been transparent about the challenges we face because of the pension obligations.
— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) February 12, 2019
Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Fischer, said the mayor did not have a comment at press time.