A proposal before the legislature would shift a portion of the state’s teacher pension system costs onto cities and towns. If this plan were to pass, cities and towns would be left with less funding for schools, and teachers’ future salaries and health benefits would be negatively impacted.
Under this proposal (Sec. 6 of House Bill 7150), most towns would be responsible for 25 percent of the “normal” retirement costs (i.e. annual retirement costs excluding unfunded liabilities). Towns with higher average pensionable salaries would contribute more, and the 25 least wealthy municipalities would contribute five percent of their associated normal cost.
“We oppose any teacher retirement cost shift that transfers millions in costs from the state to our cities and towns, putting additional financial strain on taxpayers and pressure on already tight school budgets,” says CEA President Jeff Leake.
Lawmakers have indicated they want to recruit more teachers of color and incentivize teachers to work in the hardest-to-staff school districts, yet this proposal would penalize districts for paying teachers a fair wage or for having more experienced teachers further along the salary schedule.
“As strikes across the country have shown us, teacher salaries are not excessive, and compensation plays a key role in recruitment and retention,” Leake points out. “Teachers earn 19 percent less than similarly skilled and educated professionals, forcing many to take second and third jobs to support themselves and their families. Many teachers, including those in the governor’s hometown of Greenwich, can’t afford to live in the towns where they teach due to the high cost of living.”
Leake continues, “There are solutions to the state’s pension debt problem that do not require shifting the burden to local taxpayers. We look forward to working with the administration and legislators to develop a responsible budget that manages future pension costs and keeps the state’s promise to teacher retirement without a cost shift to cities and towns, and ensures that Connecticut students have the best and brightest teachers in the classroom.”