Teacher Pensions Arenít Budget Busters

Despite the anguish emanating from state legislatures about the cost of pension obligations, a recent study puts the actual cost at about 2.9% of the average state budget. The alleged gold-plated retirements that teachers and other state workers receive are not at the root of the budget problems and forcing workers to pay more into their pensions won’t fix the current shortfall issues so many states face.

Overestimating the Problem

The new information comes courtesy of an essay by Eli Lehrer, the vice-president of the Heartland Institute, a conservative think-tank. While examining the efforts of states like Illinois to reduce future benefits and shift retirement saving efforts to workers, he found that they overestimated the impact of pensions on budgets, suggesting that the current trend of blaming state workers for budget problems was misleading.

Cadillac Benefits

Even in California, where Lehrer took issue with the generosity of the state pension, he concluded that the state’s issues did not stem from the pension system and couldn’t be fixed by curtailing retirement benefits alone. Instead, he suggested that health care plans and salaries would bring about more immediate budget relief.

Illinois House Minority Leader, Republican Tom Cross, disagreed, citing the need to include long-term fixes into the budget process, which will reduce future liability.

What Do You Think?

What’s your state shortfall look like, and where would you focus cuts and fixes?

Related Stories:

California Teachers Buy Supplies and Clean Classrooms

Why Doesn’t Sarah Palin Like Teachers?

Teacher Layoffs Loom Again


Photo credit: SFSU 2009 by coolmikeol


Shirley A.
Shirley A6 years ago

Every American should receive a copy of the budget from their State in the mail. I know there are PLENTY of places to cut in these budgets that would not be damaging to our teachers, firefighters, police, all people that contribute far more to our communities than any corporation or politician out there BUT most of us never see the budgets to be able to discern where it is best and most productive to cut. The power hungry, money mongering idiots have NO CONSCIENCE or Compassion for anyone but themselves and are marching very quickly to run their States as little, pitiful dictators. These particular politicians are ONLY about the POWER GRAB. VOTERS need to take personal responsibility in researching the sleazy politicians and send their corrupt, lame brain butts packing. Laws and rules have been passed in such a corrupt and secreted way that it is very easy for the minority or any lying, cheating, manipulating politicians to totally OBSTRUCT the will of the majority. CLEAN HOUSE in 2012 or sooner if possible with recalls and remove the tyrannical, archaic, self-imposed little demigods. We ALL have a responsibility to our Nation and our neighbors to educate ourselves with the truth, use common sense and take the message to the polls.

lyn L.
l L6 years ago

In 2000 all was quiet, we had a surplus and the economy was sound. no bush tax cuts and noone complained or cared who got a pension, we understood, we worked for it we earned it. In the 90's the speculators speced and all lost their investments and running scared. In the 2000's the specs speced and the stock market crashed. we need to put humpdy dumpty back together again, then we won't be shootin ourselves in the foot over my pension vs your pension. some people worked and planned for their retirement so as not to be a burden on anyone. Cause companies don't likecarrying dead weight and even now others are trying to take that saying you don't deserve it, you only need to live off this, while while they can live off the hog. Now it is not 2000. We lost it or gave it away.

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

We have the Governor Walker who even admitted that the collective bargaining portion of the budget bill does NOT save Wisconsin anything.

Rie Rie T.
Ria T6 years ago

So let me get this straight. GE need pay not one penny in taxes lest their billions of $ of profit dimnish. The wealthy 1-2% need pay no taxes. Same idea. The bankers, investment counselors, and realtors need millions of $ in bonuses for destroying the world economy. And, teachers or public servants are the problem in our economy? Uh, nooooo.

We need transparency in who bankroles our elected representatives from the president on down; we need laws regulating the revolving-door lobbyists who misinform, bribe, and go from election to lobby to election.

Blame the teachers. Why not? Easy targets, like the poor, the elderly, kids, people of color.

My blood is boiling. Time to go.

Deborah D.
Deborah D6 years ago

As opposed to teachers from generations back, our teachers today don't just teach the 3 R's , now they have to be mediators, psychologists, life theapist, and police men and women. And, in many cases, fear for their lives from gun and knife toting children. It's the fault of the PARENTS for not taking care of all these things themselves and for not being involved at their childs school. I suppose a lot can be blamed on the government as well, for putting our economy in such a bad state, that BOTH parents have to work long hours, just to make ends meet.
My son is 33 now and as a parent who was involved with my sons school, I can tell you for a fact that most teachers are having to pay for, even the most basic classroom needs , out of their own pockets.

And, to change the subject a bit, you can tell which politians are not involved with their childs schooling because they are ones who seem to SHOUT that teachers get 3 full months off for the summer. Idiots. The teachers in our area only have a few weeks free from school, because the rest of the time is spent on getting the classroom ready for the next batch of kids, preparing lesson plans for the coming year, and assorted meetings and seminars they are required to attend, purchasing basic needs for the classroom and for the children whose parents send them to school unprepared.

Geraldine H.
Gerri Hennessy6 years ago

Teacher work so hard and .. theu spend more time with the kids then the parents do... They shld ahve a good pension when they retire!!!

Deborah D.
Deborah D6 years ago

I can see the need for 2 petitions here.

1) Tell the politians and the President to remove Bush Tax Cuts
2) Tell the President that we want a Public Record (a list) of all corporations NOT paying taxes.

Deborah D.
Deborah D6 years ago

If the Bush Tax Cuts were removed, then that would take care of the deficit. END OF STORY! .And we wouldn't have to worry about Teachers, Medicare, etc. But God forbid that the rich and the corporations have to pay taxes.

William Y.
William Y6 years ago

The only problem is excessive tax cuts to the richest 1% of this country, pensions are piddly compared to the tax breaks of the Super rich. ^¿*

Patricia P.
Patricia P6 years ago

Compared to other professionals, teachers are not well paid. Their pensions are certainly not excessive. What is excessive is CEO pay, tax reductions for the rich bastards, and wealthy corporations that pay no taxes.