It’s time for our current leaders to step up and pay down the roughly $10 billion pension debt in order to protect teachers’ retirements and our children’s future.
The Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL), the state’s pension system for public K-12 educators, has roughly $10 billion in unfunded liabilities, meaning it currently owes $10 billion more to current and future retirees than it has in funding to pay out.
This mountainous debt – which continues to grow each day – threatens our ability to provide educators and students with the resources and funding they need. Every year, the state of Louisiana pays $900 million dollars for the interest on that debt! For the last 25 years Louisiana has failed to pay down that debt, which means we have been making promises to future retirees that we can’t keep because they don’t have the money to pay for them.
Elected officials must commit to paying down the mounting debt to make sure that retirees’ futures are secure and as many dollars as possible actually make it to our classrooms.
Year after year, investments in the pension system have overpromised and underdelivered. Now, teachers are the ones burdened by the system’s skyrocketing debt, even though nearly half of them are at risk of losing out on future benefits or pay raises due to the decades of financial mismanagement.
If the pension system is not improved immediately, current teachers may never receive the retirement benefits they were promised, and low salaries coupled with fears about financial insecurity – now and in the future – will cause even more educators to leave the profession, exacerbating our state’s critical teacher shortage.
The pension debt is directly affecting the quality of education that Louisiana children receive and our ability to attract new, talented teachers to the classroom.
Local school districts are currently paying about $12,000 per teacher in an effort to pay down the $10 billion debt; that’s on top of what they already spend on salary and benefits. For every dollar paid in teacher salaries, schools must pay an additional 30.4 cents into the retirement plan fund.
The requirement that school districts pay more and more for rising pension debt means less money is being directed toward the classroom for students’ needs, teacher salary raises, and health care coverage for staff.
Elected officials MUST commit to paying down the pension debt so that we can ensure that the promises made are promises kept!
It’s time to raise up teachers by paying down the pension debt.