Letters: Guest column was very inaccurate

Thursday, 12 October 2017, 12:58:16 PM. A recent guest column by Chad Aldeman from the advocacy group Bellwether Education Partners contained a number of inaccuracies about Louisiana’s teacher retirement plan. As director of the Teachers’ Retirement

A recent guest column by Chad Aldeman from the advocacy group Bellwether Education Partners contained a number of inaccuracies about Louisiana’s teacher retirement plan. As director of the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana, I am always happy to share factual information about the benefits we provide. When discussing the cost of teacher retirement, it should be noted that Louisiana provides these benefits at a substantially lower cost than Social Security. School boards pay 4.3 percent of payroll toward retirement costs compared to private sector employers that pay 6.2 percent into Social Security. Furthermore, employer costs for teacher retirements have remained under 7 percent for almost 20 years.

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Guest column: Drastic reforms for better teacher pensions could help Louisiana schools financially

Louisiana has been pouring money into its schools over the last ten years at twice the rate …

The actual cost of teacher retirements is not the same as the state’s payments to TRSL for years of underfunding the system. Both are components of employer costs, but switching to a different type of retirement plan won’t erase the state’s debt. To their credit, legislators have taken responsible steps since the late 1980s to contain retirement costs. And, these efforts are working. Contrary to Aldeman’s assertions, the balance of the debt is coming down, and debt payments are not increasing. This is great news for our state.

Studies show that traditional defined benefit plans, like the one TRSL administers, have a proven track record of attracting and retaining teachers and are more efficient in providing a target level of retirement income than defined contribution plans, like a 401(k). Teachers definitely value this. Last year, TRSL paid out more than $2.1 billion in retirement benefits, almost 90 percent of which retirees spend in their local Louisiana communities. At TRSL, we’re proud of the fact that our state has led the country in making teacher retirements sustainable and that career educators can count on financial security after leaving the classroom. Unfortunately, the misinformation spread by Bellwether adds no value to any discussion about what’s best for Louisiana schools, students, teachers, and taxpayers.

Dana L. Vicknair

director, TRSL

Baton Rouge

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