Bringing Connecticut teacher pensions into the 21st century

Bringing Connecticut teacher pensions into the 21st century

Less money is flowing into Connecticut classrooms. Many teachers get no retirement benefits. Disrupting layoffs discourage promising young teachers. All this because of the growing cost of Connecticut’s old-fashioned teacher pensions.

With 21st century teacher benefits we can put more money into the classroom, recruit the best teachers whether they want to work in Connecticut for a year or a career and allow thriving schools to continue to succeed without disruption.

Promises to pay retired teachers are getting in the way of paying teachers today. A century ago teacher pensions may have recruited the best candidates, but today’s economy requires more flexible and portable benefits. Many school districts are issuing pink slips in response to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal to abruptly shift pension costs onto local taxpayers.

More tax dollars are pouring into the teacher pension system – instead of into our schools’ classrooms.The flow of money needs to be redirected to students, but that will necessitate the reform of the state’s teacher retirement program.

Connecticut’s teacher pension system is a century old. It is seriously underfunded putting teachers and taxpayers at risk. Gov. Malloy’s plan to shift costs onto property taxpayers highlights the need for a solution. Let’s bring Connecticut teacher benefits into the 21st century.

With 21st century benefits for teachers we can pay less for the past and invest more in the future. Policymakers designed the teacher pension system in 1917, the year the U.S. entered World War I, when Connecticut had one-third of today’s population. The pop-up toaster was still four years away. That was before television, let alone personal computers.

Key Facts

Current funding: 56%
2017 cost: $1.01 billion
2018 cost: $1.29 billion
2019 cost: $1.33 billion
Gov. Malloy proposes shifting $827 million to local taxpayers over the next two years.

Five reforms to strengthen the teacher pension system

  1. Require additional reporting on the system’s risks to improve transparency.
  2. Increase teacher contribution rates to the national average of 8% (up from 6%).
  3. Eliminate or reduce cost of living adjustments.
  4. Include new teachers in Social Security.
  5. Require defined contribution or hybrid plans for new teachers to increase portability and reduce taxpayer risk.