Skip to comments.Pension Costs Mean Tighter Budgets For Classrooms, Taxpayers
Posted on 02/05/2014 11:05:19 AM PST by MichCapCon
Livonia Public Schools Superintendent Randy Liepa says his district will pay just under $30 million for its employee retirement pension and health care costs this year.
The district has to spend the money to cover the costs of the state retirement benefits plan, which has an estimated unfunded liability of $24.3 billion.
Just for Livonia Public Schools' employees, the state of Michigan is chipping in another $6.4 million to cover those Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) costs in 2013-14.
The teacher pension system has become an issue in the ongoing debate over state funding. Many school administrators, union officials and politicians don't want to recognize it as part of their state funding because it isn't part of the per-pupil foundation allowance that schools get to pay day-to-day operations.
The skyrocketing cost for the pension system shows how K-12 spending is increasing while also tightening the budget for other classroom costs.
"I do not want to gloss over the help retirement reform provided to local school districts," Liepa said in an email. "We recognize that without the reform packages passed by the Legislature in recent years, our budgets would have been even worse off. School administrators had been asking for retirement cost reform in our legislative platform for several years, and we applaud the state Legislature for addressing the issue."
The state put in some complex reforms in 2012 that included greater employee contributions and allowed new hires to choose a 401(k)-type plan in lieu of the traditional annual pension. That lowered the MPSERS unfunded liability by $561 million in 2013.
"I can go back to the late 1990's when school officials began to discuss the retirement system and its costs to local school districts," Liepa said. " The Legislature has taken on retirement reforms. This will, in the long run, be financially helpful to school districts and will make the system work for employees. In the short term, the state is holding our retirement costs to current levels through the reforms."
The real long-term solution is to close MPSERS and get all school employees on a 401(k)-type plan where the costs are contained to a single year the employer contribution is made, said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
"The defined benefit pension plan has become too expensive," Hohman said. "Retirement benefits in the private sector cost 5 percent to 7 percent (of payroll). MPSERS costs roughly 30 percent of payroll and the contributions are neither predictable, affordable nor current. That is, there are large gaps between what they've set aside to pay for pensions and what they expect it costs. The recent retirement reforms do little to make the pension system more predictable, affordable or current. Superintendents should call for the system to be closed, but instead have only applauded tinkering with contribution rates."
Beginning in 1997, all new state employees except teachers were shifted away from the pension system. In 2012, the Michigan Senate passed a bill that would shift teachers to a defined contribution plan, but the Republican-led Michigan House killed the bill.
the poor teachers and their 180 day work year..and then to get those poor pension benefits......so sad...
The problem with education money is not teacher pensions. It’s educational bureaucracy pay and pensions.
You find a little rural school district with one high school, one elementary, a principal, a few secretaries, and a teaching staff, and I’ll show you a district that probably works just fine.
Add on 45 specialists in textbooks, reading, accounting, grant-writing, etc., etc., and the next thing you know, they’re spending more than the cost for the education taking place.
In general, teachers are paid middle to lower middle class wages, and their pensions tend to be based on social security and some kind of IRA plus-up of that.
Explain why a “district dietician” needs to make 100 grand + per year?
The problem with Michigan’s Public Employee Retirement system is the administrators paid out 13 checks instead of 12 per year for years back in the 80’s and 90’s. They also invested those funds in areas to generate large returns...that also created large losses when the junk bonds crashed. Those Administrators are appointees who then ran off with their golden parachutes from those same funds.
There was also many years both Democrat and Republican Governors failed to fully fund the system that they were required to.
Now it’s the fault of those that worked for 30-45 years,
Oh, those poor teachers. They essentially “work” part-time and retire in their 50’s. Poor babies.
Eventually, with the bond collapse and default process, there will be fights between current government employees and pensioners for dwindling debt/revenues. It’s obvious as to which side will prevail.
At least some of the elementary school teachers in CO have been paid over $40,000 per year for more than a decade. Small classrooms, huge benefits with much individual discretion at work, and they’re still complaining about not being able to find enough teachers.
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