CTA Legislative Advocate Jennifer Baker (at center) declares at a Sacramento Bee Wednesday evening forum on teachers’ retirement that a measure of the state’s commitment to public education will be its willingness to fully fund its obligations to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.
Serving on a panel with Baker were (from l.) Ed Derman of CalSTRS, Pension Foe Marcia Fritz and Jason Sisney of the Legislative Analyst’s Office (not pictured). During the panel, Baker noted that a secure pension is vital to helping the state recruit and retain its highly qualified instructional force.
Baker also stressed the importance of the state securing new revenues to provide adequate funding for schools.
She stressed that teachers had given up a number of concessions, including incentives designed to keep educators working longer to stave off a shortage.
Baker also pointed out that unlike private workers, teachers and other public employees do not earn Social Security benefits, and those entering the teaching profession with Social Security credits are penalized when they try collecting the federal retirement benefits they earned in their
prior working life.
CalSTRS’s Derman stated that about 70% of the system’s members are women, and the average retirement age is 62.
Derman attributed the system’s unfunded liability under new federal accounting standards reflects the recent stock market volatility. He said the system invests for the long term and that a combination of changes, including the recovery of the stock market, will help the system address the accounting shortfall.
While Fritz acknowledged that CalSTRS provides only “modest” retirements to educators, she applauded the governor’s hybrid plan and said pensions should be capped so that no educators – including administrators – would receive more than $100,000 in retirement earnings.
Sisney said that the governor and legislators are faced with a hard choice of either securing more funding for the retirement system or reducing benefits for future employees, with both practicality and court rulings limiting reductions to current employees’ pensions.
A number of CTA members, including key members of the State Legislation Retirement Committee, and retired teachers attended the panel presentation, including Dana Dillon, who serves on the CalSTRS Board, and Maggie Ellis, who chairs the CTA Retirement Committee.