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I read Brian O'Neill's Feb. 17 column "Stability Hard to Find in State Pension Fund" and most of what he wrote is correct and accurate, but one place where he is way off in his facts is where he stated, "even when the state cut or stopped payments for a year or two."
Actually, the state and school districts have been under-funding their share of the teacher pension system for the past 25 years. Back in 1985, the state/school district pension contribution was over 20 percent. After that point, the state/school district percentage decreased year after year to where they contributed 1 percent to the pension fund during the 2001-02 school year. For nearly a decade, the state and school districts on average paid in less than 2 percent. All along, the teachers were contributing their share to the pension fund, paycheck after paycheck, year after year, decade after decade.
In 2003, the legislators realized they screwed up by cutting the state/school district annual share of the pension fund so dramatically in the past decade. However, instead of immediately increasing the state/school district percentage substantially to get funding back to where it needed to be, they decided to delay any major reform for the next 10 years. This resulted in adding more and more debt to the teacher pension fund each year.
This would be like the bank telling you or I that we didn't have to pay our home mortgage for a decade, but, after 10 years, our mortgage payment would be double or triple what it originally was.
Gov. Tom Corbett likes to mouth off about the increased state/school district pension contribution percentages over the past couple years, but what he doesn't tell the public is the whole history, from the mid-1980s to the present.
First Published March 3, 2013 12:00 am