Amnesia can be wonderful thing, especially in politics. To listen to John Kennedy, one may think that of course, the teacher pension problem is about poor planning. Then again, that may not be a flaw but a feature. He writes for the West Michigan Policy Forum:
It’s simple math. Today’s vastly underfunded teacher pension systems are not good for our teachers or students. Twenty years ago our state teacher retirement plan was fully funded, but due to poor financial planning assumptions and not meeting the annual funding requirement, there is now a shortfall of least $29 billion.
Here’s where amnesia takes over: twenty years ago the Engler administration raided the teacher pension fund as part of Prop A. Under that same plan, the Engler administration also shifted responsibility for increases in pensions to the local districts. The raid destabilized the funds and the cost shift meant that districts came into fiscal risk while simultaneously losing money to effectively teach their children.
And to spell this out completely: John Engler enjoyed some of his most significant support from the Republican party of W Michigan. This crisis is almost entirely one of their own making.