Across the country, state legislatures are reconvening. As the late, wonderful Molly Ivins noted, legislative politics can often provide the “finest form of free entertainment ever invented.”
At the top of many state legislatures’ agenda this year will be the issue of pensions. Although the warning signs have been there for years, legislatures tend to put off addressing issues until there’s a real crisis. As one of my legislative buddies used to say, “We legislators are outstanding at dealing with the flood in the basement, but we constantly put off addressing the leak in the roof.”
This year, there’s a crisis. Simply put, far too many state pension systems are at risk of going broke.
But while legislatures might choose to solve their pension problem only by looking at the long-term fiscal issues, we believe there is also a way to make pension changes in a way that promotes other education goals–things like attracting and retaining the best teachers.
In a new policy brief, designed specifically for legislators, we break down the key elements of pension reform and what any policymaker should know heading into the 2012 legislative season. Five Things Education Supporters Should Know About Pension Reform outlines five key areas to consider as legislators evaluate proposed changes to their state’s pension system.
Because this issue is going to be top of mind with legislators in many states, education reformers and advocates should also be able to talk about the issue. This legislative guide is a good place to start.