Bevin’s pension plan would harm education in Kentucky

Published 1:14 pm Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dear Editor,

In announcing his solution for the teacher’s pension plan, Gov. Bevin has once again shown his disrespect for the intelligence and service of the teachers of Kentucky.  

He seems to think that current teachers will bow to him with grateful thanks for giving them the opportunity to give up 3 percent of their pay to finance their own retiree health benefits; and for allowing them to keep working after 27 years as long as they then jump into a 401(k) program. He is so sure that these teachers will love this last idea, he recommends putting a hold on implementation for three years — to keep many teachers from retiring early.

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He seems certain that current retirees will kiss the ground he walks on for only freezing future cost of living adjustments instead of stealing back the cost of living payments they received in the past. A cynical person might wonder if the threat of “clawing back” past cost of living payments was a bluff to soften the blow of future freezes.

As for new teachers — what a deal! Those lucky teachers will be blessed with the opportunity of putting up to 12 percent of their salary into a 401(k) account subject to the ebb and flow of a fluctuating equities market. For this blessing, their employer will “promise” to match contributions up to 6 percent. Then again, the breaking of promises was what led to this pension crisis in the first place.

Of course, for employees in most professions, if 401(k) accounts tank, they still have their Social Security benefits, right? But wait, Bevin has declared that “teachers do not want to pay into Social Security” so they won’t be allowed to do so (and the state will not have to pay the employer share). Thus these future teachers may thank their benevolent state government for taking away the only defined retirement benefit they had any hope of receiving.  

In spite of what Matt Bevin appears to believe, Kentucky teachers are not stupid. Existing teachers will know when they are being cheated out of part of their salaries, and prospective new teachers will think twice before taking a job that offers limited or no retirement security. Teachers are the heartbeat of our educational system. We need them for the future of our state. Please encourage your senator and representative to reject this plan that will threaten the future of our schools and our children.

Linda Porter