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posted: 8/10/2012 4:40 AM

Politicans to blame for pension problem

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Our governor has appeared on the news promoting his aggressive plan to dismantle the state pension program under the guise of improving the education of our children. This is a totally misleading concept.

The politicians of our state have dishonestly portrayed the problem. If our state legislators had fulfilled their constitutional responsibility, we would not be in this fix. I am referring to the "pension contribution holidays" that our state has "taken" in past years. That lack of funding has reduced the funds the TRS has been able to invest.

In addition, the legislators have borrowed money from the pension plan to fund public services. I am quoting from an article in State Journal-Register from July 3: "To be considered sound, public sector pensions should be at least 80 percent to 90 percent funded. That's scary, but here's the eye opener: If retirement benefits and salary increases were the only drivers of the unfunded liability, the state's retirement systems would be about 94 percent funded today. In other words, there would be no pension crisis." But "by 1994, lawmakers had borrowed so much against pensions that the funded ratio was just 54.5 percent."

The guilty parties for this crisis are not the teachers -- it's the politicians.

Consider this -- if the benefits available in any industry become unstable or are reduced, the best individuals shy away from it. We need to draw top people into the education profession and the only way that could be accomplished is to make it as attractive as possible. Reducing benefits will not do that.

Charles Peraino


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