A Pension is a Promise


Victoria Steward, Managing Editor/Arts Editor

“A Pension is a Promise”. This is the phrase teachers are using in protest of the Pension Reform Bill (Senate Bill 1). The pension system is currently in $43 billion of debt thanks to the fact that three former governors have “borrowed” money from the pension system, but never replaced it.

When teachers sign their contracts they are promised a pension and a 1.5% cost of living benefit. Neither one of these are free benefits. Teachers pay towards their pension with every pay check. If they lose their pension, or if the pension benefits are reduced, they also lose this money.

Upon retirement teachers receive their pension, but unlike the general public, they cannot draw social security or their spouses’ social security. Even if someone never works a day in their lives they can draw social security once they reach a certain age, but our teachers who work hard for 27 or more years cannot. Their pension is all they have to live on once retired. Those who draw social security also receive 2% cost of living benefit, so the 1.5% teachers receive is fair, but the new pension bill is looking to decrease this to 1% until the pension system if funded at 90%.

Ask any teacher and they will tell you, they didn’t enter the education field for the money. They wanted to teach. They wanted to educate the next generation. A good pension is only an advantage that comes with the job.

Governor Matt Bevin is quoted saying: “It’s about just straight up wanting more than your fair share. This is a group of people just throwing a temper tantrum”.

Our teachers are not throwing a temper tantrum. They are fighting for something that was promised to them. A good pension is more than fair to the men and women who teach in the classroom, grade papers for hours, sponsor clubs, deal with angry students and parents, all on a daily basis. A pension IS a promise, a promise that needs to be kept.