Teachers to blame for state pension woes
The key to correcting our state’s finances is correcting our public retirement imbalance. Eight percent of the general fund is spent on pensions. Worse, as Gov. Tom Corbett stated in 2013, 60 percent of all new state tax money goes to retirement payments.
The Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System is a huge part of this dysfunction because it works against teachers retiring. The system encourages them to teach well after the usual retirement age of 55, allowing many to be paid more than $100,000 in salaries. At 30 years they get 80 percent of their top salaries, at 40 years 100 percent. Many teachers make more in retirement than most of the taxpayers supporting them make at the height of their own careers.
Well-educated recent college graduates are scraping by while repaying tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and waiting for old teachers to finally retire. But the retirement disincentive has created a young teacher backlog. Last year for one elementary position in the Carlynton School District there were more than 600 applicants.
In 2002 each school district had to pay 5 percent of each of its teacher’s salary toward the PSERS fund. That forced contribution has grown to over 30 percent in 2016 and will surpass 35 percent in just a few years to pay the system’s $37 billion in unfunded debt!
The blame for high property taxes belongs on old teachers refusing to retire and selfishly denying teaching positions to their young potential replacements.
The writer is a Carlynton School District board member.