Educator puts face on misguided efforts to undermine retirement security


by Brian Washington

When we talk about politicians trying to undermine the retirement security of loyal public service workers like educators, nurses, fire fighters, and police officers, you often don’t get the real stories of the people impacted by these misguided decisions.

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However, the National Public Pension Coalition is trying to change that with a new campaign called “Behind the Cuts.” It’s designed to draw attention to the stories of some of the hundreds of thousands of  public service workers who face devastating consequences when the politicians, who are supposed to represent their interests, pass laws that ultimately gut their retirement savings.

The campaign was kicked off earlier this month and featured one story from a Louisiana educator, Kevin Crovetto, who’s family could have faced financial ruin due to Governor Bobby Jindal’s pension slashing initiatives a couple of years ago.

Losing our pensions would force my wife and I to decide between paying our mortgage, saving for retirement, or funding our daughters’ college account.  My wife and I have supported our community through thick and thin, always playing by the rules and working our hardest. Now it is up to our elected officials to hold up their end of the bargain – a modest pension so we can retire with the dignity and respect we deserve.

Each week, the NPPC plans to release the real story of dedicated public servants who is or could be impacted by political attacks on their retirement security.

Reader Comments

  1. I recently learned that even though I paid into SS for almost 20 yrs,…I will get NOTHING simply b/c I worked as a teacher the last 15 yrs before retirement…yikes! 35 yrs clogged in the tubes.
    This is for those of you who don’t understand why we are complaining louder and louder.
    The break down, I make $1200 in retirement, $409 goes to insurance premiums (which is raised every year) then I get to keep $689 a month. Who can live “comfortably” on this?????
    Why? Why? Why can’t people see how lop-sided this plan is? I have a small (1200 sq. ft.) house, I don’t drive a new car (1999), no frills or bells and whistles of any kind. I have cut back on absolutely everything in my life to the bare bones. And then I read blogs by people who are ugly about all these retirement disasters. Writing about things that they have no real experience of. Hey! people like me are not living high-off-the-hog! We are struggling to break even each month. God knows I dread the first sneeze. It could mean financial ruin in a heart beat.
    Why don’t we work together to change this system NOW so that others behind us can get a fair shake? Dismantle the laws that bind us all. Keep pushing the reps in your state, support those that have already begun the process of change, give people like myself a well deserved break from the sarcasm and meanness. Try to understand how difficult it is.

  2. Regarding your The 10 Worst Governors article, if you added Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, and eliminate Chris Christie, Paul LePage and Tom Corbitt, you would have an ideal TOP 10 GOVERNORS list.

    Scott Walker has been such a failure that he has taken a huge deficit and turned into a surplus, lowered unemployment by over three percentage points, and returned taxpayer funds TO THE TAXPAYERS. California can only dream of having a Governor as capable and successful as Scott Walker.

    All one has to do is look at the number of people moving into the states led by Conservative Governors and look at the exodus from states led by liberals. Tells you everything you need to know.

    What a misguided and agenda-driven piece this is.

  3. I would have just one request of these politicians. I will be happy to have the same pension plan that they have. Who funds their pensions?? One guess!! If these politicians were facing the same conditions you would see a fair and equitable solution(in favor of the politicians) very quickly!!

  4. I knew that my social security would be impacted by the Windfall Elimination Act, but this month I got the really sad news that my husband’s survivor benefit will also be gutted. He worked for over 45 yrs and contributed to social security. But because I became an educator in middle-age, his survivor benefit to me will be reduced by over 60%.

    This is not right. Attacking my social security is bad enough, but his?

  5. Look at what’s happened to bargaining in WI.! I’m fortunate in CT. To have a very good retirement plan with full benefit after 35 yrs. (70% of average of top 3 yrs.), a Cola based on any rise in Social Security. In my 1st. 8 yrs. of retirement, I’ve usually had at least some increase. State law mandates my last employer (my 1st. & last) allow me to remain in the group, paying the group rate as per active teacher’s current contract (not a small amount!) since I was Ineligible for Medicare at age 65. The cost of medical insurance takes a major portion of a retiree’s income. The state of CT. Does subsidize that cost with $110/single until age 65, $220 after age 65 if single and Ineligible for Medicare.
    CEA and CEA-R are strong advocates for retired teachers in CT.

    1. The Wisconsin education system is fast becoming a joke under Scott Walker and the Koch brother’s agenda. Some of the best teachers have very wisely gone into the private sector. Most of the college education majors are applying out of state. Illinois and Minnesota are especially happy with the decline in Wisconsin because they are harvesting our best and brightest. The university system is cutting back on education programs drastically because of the declining number of education majors. The Wis Retirement system has been under attack before under then governor Tommy Thompson. The state had to pay back millions that it raided from the fund. Learn from the huge mistakes that are happening here in Wis. I’m taking accounting classes and leaving education because it is too heart breaking to watch administrations running rampant with power and the state legislature treat professionals with such disrespect.

    2. I’m also a retired CT teacher. I agree that our retirement plan has allowed me to live a reasonably comfortable life in retirement after 35 years in education and 15 years or so with private companies. I spend every dollar of my retirement allotment thereby contributing to the economy and there are so many like me. Those who would cut are scapegoaters and illiterates.

  6. They want to do the same thing to us in Illinois. My wife taught for 38 years. I taught for 33 years and worked in a state mental hospital for 5 years. Shouldn’t we be able to not live in poverty in our retirements?

    1. Good article, Allyson. Thanks for the heads-up.

      The red ink that our Federal and State governments have been tallying up is the result of moneyed interest asserting its influence in our pay-to-play legislatures. It can no longer be denied that wealth consolidation to the top, and the decimation of the middle, is a reality in the USA.
      National policy that accomplished these ends include:
      1. Free Trade Agreements like NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and the upcoming TPP (some are calling NAFTA on steroids) which have kicked into high gear the offshoring of our manufacturing sector jobs to sweatshops abroad as they assure access to our consumer markets, tariff-free to soak the USA and fleece her for all she’s worth so Wall Street can thrive while Main Street struggles to survive.
      2. Union busting efforts of our elected officials as they become the mouth pieces of corporate interests that would jam right to work (for less) laws down our throats, forcing us to capitulate to the downward pressure on wages/benefits (if we know what’s good for us), to compete for manufacturing jobs they’ve shipped to China ($1.36/hr. avg. wage; some work for 30 cents/hr.), some have called the “race to the bottom,” I call, entering our workers in a pissing match with a pole cat.
      3. The Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act and the deregulation fever that witnessed Wall Street’s smartest men in the room behaving very badly.
      4. Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission rendering, which opened the floodgates for moneyed interest, and Super PACs (“corporations are people, my friend,” and “money is speech”) asserting their will in our representative form of government and guaranteeing the 99.44% muting of “we the people.”
      5. Tax policy for moneyed interest! Those who are benefitting from, or in collusion with the corporatists will point to the USA corporate marginal effective tax rate set at 35-39%, among the world’s highest. But without exception will avoid mention that because of the myriad of deductions, credits, write-offs, subsidies and other loopholes in our corporate tax code, the after tax effective rate is between 8-13%. Some corporations that earn $$$multi-BILLION per quarter (mostly garnered from the USA consumer market), pay zero in taxes and some get a $3 BILLION rebate check from the USA tax payer (Google 26 Major Corporations pay no tax, or GE files 57,000 pages of tax exemptions…, or Large companies find ways to pay zero tax…). Then park their $$$10s of Billions in clear profit in offshore tax havens. BRILLIANT!!!

      As the money runs out, or should I say, UPHILL, and the balance that was once struck between moneyed interest and “we the people” lays in ruins, there will need to be a lot of disingenuous RHETORIC disseminated to keep we the people flummoxed, angry, fearful and at each other’s throats so that the real perpetrators of this economic treason can slither into the shadows, concealed behind closed door deals, so they may continue, uninterrupted, the realization of record gains by our “multinationals” in the business and financial sectors, as America the Beautiful declines into insolvency trying to accommodate them. Check out this propaganda manifesto created by the Free Congress Foundation’s Weyrich and Heubeck, entitled “The Integration of Theory and Practice.”

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