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Mon Feb 18, 2019, 11:55 PM

House bill just first step in shoring up Teachers Retirement System

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The implication is that the first step wonít be the last.

Thatís the right way to think about House Bill 109, which is intended to address the increasingly worrisome debt for Georgiaís teacher pension system. Itís an initial step toward securing the retirement income promised to our public-school teachers past and present, but it isnít nearly enough to take the system as far as it needs to go.

The bill authored by Rep. Tommy Benton, a Republican from Jefferson and retired teacher, would make a few changes to the pensions of new teachers starting July 1. They wouldnít be eligible for a pension until age 60, even if theyíve worked the requisite 30 years; their highest average salary would be calculated over five years instead of two and capped at $200,000; and they could be required to contribute up to 10 percent of their salary toward their pension instead of the current 6 percent cap.

But all these changes donít add up to much of a difference for Georgiaís Teachers Retirement System. My friends at the Reason Foundationís Pension Integrity Project, who study public pensions around the country, say TRSís total accrued liabilities by 2037 would fall by less than 2 percent, from about $162.5 billion to $159.5 billion. Total contributions for that year would see less of a change, an increase of about $515 million.

Read more: https://www.onlineathens.com/news/20190218/wingfield-house-bill-just-first-step-in-shoring-up-teachers-retirement-system

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