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Retired teacher concerned about future of pension

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

I am a retired teacher who will see my pension cut if the General Assembly passes legislation of the sort that has been proposed in the past several legislative sessions.

I just received by email a legislative update from my representative, Tom Demmer, and was disturbed to find that he repeats a frequently cited but improper rationale for support of this kind of legislation. (“I’ll continue to work for a reform solution that protects the pension systems from bankruptcy and recognizes the massive financial pressures facing the state.”) 

It is understandable that politicians would look for cover when supporting legislation that will take away some of the benefits that have been contractually earned by teachers, policemen, firemen and other public servants during the years they worked. But the rationale for that support should at least be factual.

The U.S. Constitution contains no provision for a state to declare bankruptcy, and lacking the ability to do so means that the state cannot legally be relieved of its obligations to any of its creditors – and that includes retired public employees.

Therefore, hinting that the pension systems could become “bankrupt” is not a factual justification for the seizure of the property of retired public servants. 

You may not be a public employee and may not think you have a reason to care about what happens to those of us who are, but if the General Assembly can confiscate our property to make up for a crisis that they alone created, you might wonder what they can take away from you when they create the next one.

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