The most common phrase used by ALGOP lawmakers these days is “unintended consequence.” Just Google “unintended consequences” with “alabama legislature” for a sampling. Here is another another “unintended consequence:”
When the Alabama legislature
cut the pay required greater contribution of Alabama teachers and other school personnel, they were not thinking very broadly or deeply. The Birmingham News reports:
Officials expect a mass retirement of educators come Dec. 1 because of new legislation that will slowly but significantly raise health care premiums under the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan beginning Jan. 1. Those who retire before then will not be subject to the increases.
“The largest impacted group are in their early to mid 50s, so therefore couldn’t get into the DROP program, but have 25 years in education,” said Sheila Jones, chief financial officer for Jefferson County schools. “What you could potentially have is a mass exodus in December, and it certainly doesn’t help the continuity of instruction to have a brand-new teacher second semester.” . .
Employees also are having to pay more toward their retirement at the same time they are seeing health care premiums increase, causing a double-whammy, Baker said.
Not only did the Legislature cut teachers’ pay, but they unthinkingly timed the pay-cuts to greatly disrupt the education of students.
While the GOP-controlled Legislature seems to comprehend the concept of carrots for Big Business, they never caught on to the fact that quality teachers and aspiring young teachers make decisions partially upon financial incentives as well. While the GOP wants the state to have a whole set of tools to
incentivize Big Business to come to Alabama, they have done just the opposite for attracting great teachers.
Traditionally, educators’ benefits have been a recruiting tool into a line of work that doesn’t pay well unless an employee works his way up to an administrative position. That is slowly starting to change, Baker said.
But the real motive of the GOP is revealed by the article:
“This thing is so convoluted, when what they (legislators) really wanted was to make the retirement age 65,” said Marc Reynolds, deputy director of Retirement Systems of Alabama. “They simply didn’t want to tell people that they can’t retire until they’re 65, so they created this mess.”
The new law is hard to understand because there are several components and penalties, depending on age and years of service. For example, a retiree who is 55 years old who retires after Jan. 1 will have to pay an additional 1 percentage point penalty each year he is not eligible for Medicare. That means the retiree ultimately will pay a 10 percent penalty since he is 10 years from being eligible for Medicare.
As far as the impact of mid-year implementation:
Reynolds said he doesn’t believe legislators considered what the new law would mean for schools mid-year.
“I don’t think it even crossed their mind,” he said. “I think we are going to see an extraordinary amount of teachers retiring Dec. 1, probably more than in the history of retirements.”
If they call a special session, they are going to be very busy “tweaking.”