A significant amount of the money you pay in school taxes goes not to educate children but to pay people who don’t teach anymore.
Overly generous pensions are eating up school (and, to a lesser degree, municipal) budgets.
For instance, the average Capital Region teacher who retired last year with at least 30 years of service will be receiving a pension of more than $60,000 a year for the rest of their life. Not to mention health coverage.
The pensions were reported recently by the Times Union with numbers provided by independent think tank and fiscal watchdog Empire Center, which won a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the state Teachers Retirement System. The retirement system didn’t want the public to see what it’s paying for. (Go ahead and peek at the Empire Center’s database at seethroughny.net.)
Good teachers are worth their weight in gold. But that’s not the point.
Even someone as math-challenged as I can see that saddling citizens with the cost of these pensions doesn’t add up.
An increasing portion of school budgets goes to support pensions and health benefits. Over the years, some changes have sought to reduce this growth, such as extending the required years of service and bumping up teachers’ contributions to their health coverage. But the benefits are still out of whack.
In May, citizens across the state will be presented with their school districts’ annual budgets. Administrations and their school boards will keep spending increases under the 2 percent state tax cap, and thus under the public radar. They will shrug off the disproportionate benefits as “contractual obligations” out of their control.
Yet they’re the ones who approve the contracts.
Board of Education members all around the state – fortified by taxpayers – must find the gumption to say to the unions, “Enough!”