Politicians Need to Stay Out of Teachers’ Retirement Funds

Here is what I just wrote on Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog, regarding how inadvisable and wrong it is for politicians to think they can dictate how to invest TRS funds in Georgia:

“Before politicians get involved in my pension funds and the pension funds of other retired teachers in Georgia, they will have a legal battle on their hands.  And, I will do everything in my power, with my words and impact, to convince others that it is time for Georgia’s teachers to lead the way in establishing real unions in Georgia not only for teachers but for all of Georgia’s citizens who have jobs in labor.
No one, except teachers themselves, has the right to be discussing and determining how teachers’ own retirement funds are invested.  Teachers’ retirement funds were contributed from their own monthly paychecks – in a significant amount monthly – over the course of their long and stable professional lives.  Those funds were pooled together with the funds of all other public school teachers in Georgia and invested for all of those teachers by the financial personnel at the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia.  Georgia has one of the best TRS systems in the nation and one that is financially very sound.  Before the Great Recession, Georgia’s retired teachers funds were 100% funded by teachers’ monies.  Since then, 85% has been funded by teachers monies, with the difference contributed by approximately 7.5% by the school district in which the teacher had worked and 7.5% by the state of Georgia.
Teachers were paid during their working years for the services that they rendered to the students in Georgia, just as mayors and governors are paid for their services rendered to the public.  Georgia’s teachers have a defined-benefit retirement plan that is legally binding. It was legally binding when they began their careers and that defined-benefit plan is still legally binding today.
I started my teaching career 45 years ago. No politician has the right to rob my retirement funds for his or her own political advantage – morally and legally.  If Georgia’s TRS were not self-supporting, as it is today, then the taxpayers of Georgia would have to pay 100% for my retirement until I die, as was established legally nearly a half century ago, when I began my teaching career.  Georgia’s citizens should be astute enough and wise enough to understand this and join the GAE, PAGE and other teachers’ groups in Georgia, as well as the public school teachers themselves, in demanding that the outstanding professional financial agents at the TRS continue to make sound financial investments for teachers, using the teachers’ own contributed retirement funds to do so.  The rest of this venture capital argument, concocted by politicians who are as flightly and vapid in their thinking as some of their constituents, is only a way to start drawing funds from the TRS and teachers in Georgia will not stand for this.  They see through it and they will fight it as high and as long as it takes to secure their financial well-being, their rights, and simply for reasons of fair play.”
Link to that AJC article can be found here: http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2014/10/19/teachers-retirement-system-heads-up-hands-off-and-suspicion-all-around/
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