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Kentucky teachers rally over retirement cuts, warn of strike

March 8, 2018

Su Sheridan holds a sign protesting proposed cuts to retirement benefits for public school teachers on Thursday, March 8, 2018 in Frankfort, Ky. An art teacher at Elkhorn Middle School, Sheridan was one of hundreds of educators in at least 28 central Kentucky schools to hold a "walk in" on Thursday. Lawmakers say the bill is necessary to save the pension system from insolvency. But Sheridan said she and other teachers are willing to strike if that's what it takes to convince lawmakers not to pass it. (AP Photo/Adam Beam)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Hundreds of teachers in central Kentucky have rallied in front of public schools to protest proposed cuts to their retirement benefits in what could be a precursor to a statewide strike.

Kentucky state Senators on Wednesday took the first step toward passing a bill they say would save taxpayers $3.2 billion over the next 20 years and stabilize one of the country’s worst-funded public pension systems.

But most of those savings would come from a 33 percent cut to the annual cost-of-living raises for retired teachers, who aren’t eligible for Social Security benefits.

Thursday was the first organized protest at public schools in front of parents and students. It came just days after a nine-day statewide teacher strike in West Virginia was settled when lawmakers there approved 5 percent raises.

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