Teachers’ Retirement Bill Approved By Appropriations Committee

April 19, 2006

A bill that would amend the Connecticut State Constitution to require the state to fully fund the state’s Teachers’ Retirement Fund (TRF) received favorable approval from the budget-writing Appropriations Committee this week. State Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven) joined 43 other members of the committee in voting for the legislation against only seven in opposition. Connecticut public school teachers do not participate in the federal government’s social security program and thus rely on the state’s TRF for their pensions. Currently, the TRF faces an approximately $5.3 billion shortfall.

“Teachers provide one of the state’s most valuable services as they help develop the future leaders of our state. They deserve to know that their pensions will be there for them when they retire,” said Senator Fasano. “The legislature has an obligation to provide actuarially sound funding to the system each and every year and this legislature ensures that will happen.”

Similar legislation has been proposed during the last several legislative sessions but this year’s bill has a slight language change. The bill would constitutionally prohibit the legislature from overriding the law that requires full funding of the state’s teacher pension fund.

“I am happy that this bill will hold the legislature to its word. In the 30 year history of the TRF, it has only been funded at 100% of actuarial cost once and has been under-funded at a rate of about 15% per year. That’s why we find ourselves with this current enormous shortfall,” explained Senator Fasano. “I am hopeful my colleagues in both legislative chambers recognize the importance of this legislation and give the bill their approval.”

Senator Fasano warns of the potential consequences of continuing along the path of not fully-funding the TRF.

“It’s our obligation as a legislature to provide teachers the retirement benefits they so richly deserve. If we continue to under-fund the system future legislatures may strip away some teachers’ pensions or significantly raise taxes on all citizens to help the state pay for the benefits. This Constitutional amendment would ensure that the state is never forced into those scenarios.”