Maxwell wants to trim teacher retirement benefits

[private]State Rep. Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas) set off a little bomb Monday morning when he said he’s introducing a bill to cut the cost of living adjustments (known as COLAs) that teachers receive in their Teachers Retirement System (TRS) benefits.

“We are in a dire situation right now with the Teachers Retirement System,” Maxwell said in a House floor speech, contending that local school systems now have to contribute 20.9 percent of teachers’ salaries to pay for future retirement systems. “This is unsustainable.”

The state allocated $223 million last year and $359 million in this year’s budget to shore up the fiscal soundness of TRS.

Maxwell said his bill, which has not been assigned a number yet, would only affect teachers hired after 1993.

He is playing with dynamite in an election year. Teachers are a politically active group and get quite riled up when legislators talk about changing their insurance coverage or retirement benefits.

Maxwell, on the other hand, has no worries about political consequences – he isn’t running for reelection.

“We’ve been like frogs in a pan,” Maxwell said. “You turn the heat on and you can gradually turn that heat up, and you can boil ‘em to death. I’m going to get out of that pan.”

Maxwell, a former chairman of the House retirement committee, said that in 2008, employer contributions to the TRS were $986 billion, but are now up to $1.64 billion a year.

“I don’t know exactly what all the answers are – this is a start,” he said of his bill. “I’m now asking you to be a frog and jump out of the pan with me, but we’re going to look at it.”

© 2018 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Howard Maxwell , TRS