Nutmeg State Teachers Kick off Pension Funding Battle

March 1, 2006 ( - Facing a funding shortfall of more than $5 billion in their state pension, Connecticut teachers have kicked off an awareness campaign to promote proposed legislation that would make proper teacher pension funding a constitutional requirement.

According to a news release from teachers’ union Connecticut Education Association, Senate Joint Resolution 3 would mandate that lawmakers set aside the actuarially required amount of annual funding to the teachers plan. That, according to the union, is something the General Assembly has failed to do for more than 10 years.

Union officials wrote in the announcement that “the legislature has chosen again and again to override this requirement and appropriate somewhere between 66% and 85% of the required amount.”

At a state capital news conference in Hartford, union president Rosemary Coyle blasted the lawmakers for their record on the pension issue. “We’re here today trying to protect good teachers from bad policy. That’s what underfunding in the teacher pension fund is – bad policy,” said Coyle.   “We have to stand up for our members who give so much to their students and their communities.”

Because Connecticut teachers do not participate in Social Security, their teacher pension is their critical source of retirement income, the union said.

A recent Standard & Poor’s report, citing figures from 2004, said Connecticut’s public pension fund assets account for about 60% of accrued liabilities. Only four other states have similar or lower levels of funding, the report said (See  Underfunded Public Pension Funds Causing State Budgetary Stress ).