Overhaul the tax code instead of cheating teachers’ pensions

Published 10:06 am Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dear Editor,

The governor’s pension proposal is now out, and various agencies are perusing the 500+ pages to evaluate its effect on teachers and other public workers. What has not changed is the enormous liability already incurred; I would like to see the plan to address this issue. Nowhere in the proposal is a solution to this problem.

The provisions in the proposal will affect everyone in the system—those who have retired, those who are currently active, and those who have yet to enter the field. By far, the most affected will be new hires. Who in their right mind with a bachelor’s or master’s degree will want to come to work making a lower salary with fewer benefits than they can earn in the private sector?

The proposed three percent reduction in salary for retirement insurance for active teachers is also damaging. For a teacher making an annual salary of $40,000, this amounts to a pay cut of $1,200 annually. Annual raises are not handed out as they are in the private sector; most employees go years to even get a token increase.

And the proposed 1 ½ percent COLA for retired teachers—for a retired teacher receiving $40,000, over five years the loss amounts to over $2,450. These may seem like small amounts, but for the people involved, it makes a great deal of difference.

Bottom line is that our governor, who made his millions with hedge fund investments, wants to privatize all public and government agencies so that his millionaire friends can get their hands on investment funds. The losers will be the individual employees and retirees; they cannot compete with the expertise and volume savings accomplished by our INDEPENDENT pension boards. If we are not careful, we will be in the same shape before the TRS was established; our retirees will be living in a chicken coop with no heat and inadequate food and medical care!

Let’s overhaul the tax code and perhaps look at doing the unthinkable—raise taxes. Putting remedies to prior legislators’ mismanagement on the backs of public employees and retirees is not the answer.

Peggy Orberson

Lincoln Co. Retired Teachers