Vermont lawmakers had told Treasurer Jeb Spaulding to chair the new commission to study the retirement fund for Vermont’s more than 8,000 public school educators, the Associated Press reported.
While Spaulding thinks there’s still time to save the fund from “going off the cliff,” he said changes need to be made now to make the fund stay solvent.
“There is no silver bullet, but there are a variety of steps that are necessary” to shore up the $1.5 billion fund, Spaulding told the Associated Press in an interview. “The problem is not the absolute position we’re in right now; it’s the trend. We have been going in the wrong direction in terms of maintaining the teachers’ pension system.”
The shortfall in the teachers’ retirement fund has been allowed to grow larger. It was $87.5 million in fiscal 2002, and grew to $110.9 million by fiscal 2004, according to the news report.
This year, while the state’s actuarial consultant said Vermont should put $47 million into the teachers’ pension fund, Vermont lawmakers appropriated a bit more than half that amount: $24.4 million. That means the shortfall grew by another $22.3 million in a year when the state had a surplus.
The Vermont panel is scheduled to hold six meetings until November 15.
In a statement announcing the commission’s first session, Spaulding said, “I’m not sure just saying the state should pay more will get us where we need to go. We must be sure that benefit levels are appropriate and sustainable, that system expenses are in line, and that all parties are paying their fair share.”
More information about the Vermont teachers fund is at http://www.vermonttreasurer.gov/retirement/teacher/index.html .