One of the tough things about writing a newspaper column after having blogged for a while is the distressing lack of hypertext. Words have to stand on their own, rather than being butressed by photos, videos and links to sources.
So I'm going to use this opportunity to provide some linked context to today's Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel column on LePage's decision to exempt himself from cutbacks to the pensions of teachers and other public employees, and how the money the state saves from these cutbacks is to be used to reduce taxes for Maine's wealthiest residents.
MRSA Title 2 spells out the governor's pension and other benefits and Title 5 governs other state employees' benefits. They all currently pay the same 7.65% pension contribution. Part S of LePage's budget changes Title 5, but leaves Title 2 alone, which means that LePage's pension contributions will stay the same even as they are increased for other public employees. Title 2 also describes how LePage will be eligible for a pension worth 3/8ths of his salary as soon as he leaves office. Read more »
Not yet in focus in the debates about Governor LePage's proposed changes to teachers' retirements is the immediate consequence to staffing within Maine schools.
As the crest of the teachers' demographic now mark sixtieth birthdays, onerous retirement penalties and incentives will precipitate big changes.
With good teachers now caricatured nationally for their presumed greed and incompetence, one may take these reductions as calculated. But, while Sawin Millett has said that the Governor's budget is predicted upon a decrease of 1100 teachers, it seems quite possible that the real reduction could end up much greater.
The Governor proposes, beginning January 1, to require new retirees under the age of 65 to pay the full cost of private health insurance. Under most teachers' pensions, the basic arithmetic will make this prohibitively expensive. So, regardless of the merits of the Governor's plan, you can be certain that most retirement-eligible teachers in the 60-65 age range right now are weighing giving their notice. Read more »