Why Don't Teachers Fight for Their Pensions?
The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously declared its State's revised retirement to be unconstitutional. The 2013 law authorized funneling teachers' retirement funds to cover budget deficits and pay for infrastructure and service programs. Now Illinois must find one hundred billion dollars to replace missing teachers retirement funds.
Kentucky has a similar problem. Its teacher retirement fund is currently facing sixteen billion dollars of unfunded liabilities, not to mention additional funding deficits for to a total of twenty-two billion dollars. In the last session of the General Assembly a three point three yearly bond issue was suggested and rejected as a possible remedy. However, once more the Illinois experience demonstrated that its issuance of bonds were negatively affected precisely because of it pension difficulties.
For Kentucky teachers, problems with their pension benefits are especially grave due to the fact that they do not receive Social Security coverage. The State that misappropriates pension funds will now be faced with thousands of elderly retirees who will qualify for Medicare/aid, SNAP (food stamps}, housing and utility subsidies, and other state, local, and federal subsidies. They will face increased medical and prescription costs, with dependence on their children for housing, transportation, or other needs. This does not even take into consideration that an impoverished pension system is not an incentive to future teacher recruitment. This at a time when education is a major factor in attracting future industries.
BUT, where are the teachers? Do they think that somehow the legislature will suddenly fix this mess? Are they "Waiting for Superman"? The cries of progressive legislators have fallen on deaf ears. BUT teachers are a silent majority. Count their numbers, add their spouses, plus children and grandchildren, and you have a formidable bipartisan voting block. What would happen if at the beginning the new school year students would be greeted with teachers holding tin cups, a pension collection for retiring teachers, pie sales for pensioners? Why don't the teachers fight back? Social Justice begins at home. Correcting Kentucky's pension system is not only just for pensioners, it is just for all Kentuckians.