Wednesday, October 25, 2017
by Jean Fontana, President - Levittown Retired Teachers
According to David P. Keefe, President of Board of the New York State Teacher's Retirement System (NYSTRS), our retirement system has approximately $110,000,000,000 in assets. Yes, you read that right, 110 billion dollars! By allowing a Constitutional Convention your retirement board could lose control of these assets and, in the process, lose control of your pension.
Politicians are salivating about the prospect of getting their hands on our pension money. Right now, there is a clause in the state constitution that, to paraphrase, says keep-your-hands-off our pension money! A constitutional convention could propose removal of this language and put all of our pensions at risk.
When we became teachers, we knew a pension was part of our career package of benefits that we would work towards, contribute to, and enjoy upon retirement. It is a principle so ingrained that New York State contributes directly to this fund before school districts receive their state aid. It is because of this fiscal policy that our pension system is not in the financial jam being experienced by many others. State governments and local municipalities in these other areas seem to borrow from the pension system and don't pay it back. Right now, New York State doesn't have that problem and we don't want to have it.
The City of Detroit, for example, filed an exit plan with a federal bankruptcy court. According to a story in The Detroit Free Press the plan intended to resolve the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history by allowing the city a proposed cut of 34% to pensions of general city retirees and 10% pension cuts to police and fire retirees.
Don't think for one second that this kind of solution is not in the minds of our state politicians who would love to do something like this in an attempt to solve the budget problems in our state.
For all of us the choice is simple: Vote "No" to a Constitutional Convention on Election Day, November 7, 2017. The money you save is your own.