Friday, August 20, 2010

Denney Seeks To Clarify 'Misinformation'

House education leader Rep. Lee Denney clarified today misinformation shes said is circulating among educators about the teachers’ retirement system.

Denney, chairwoman of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education, said she has heard from numerous teachers who have been told the Legislature provided no funding for the teacher retirement system this year.

“This information is blatantly misleading and those spreading it know it,” said Denney, R-Cushing. “They are doing nothing more than trying to spread fear in the ranks for political reasons.”

To set the record straight, Denney stressed that the employer contribution to the teacher retirement system was fully-funded this year. What was not funded by the state Department of Education was a credit that in the past has gone to pay a portion of the teacher’s own contribution into the system.

“This benefit is far richer than you will find anywhere in the private sector and is a benefit that other state employees do not even share,” said Denney. “Unfortunately, this year we have faced incredible financial challenges in our state that have touched every state agency. The State Board of Education was spared from cuts more than most agencies and was also given complete flexibility to spend their appropriated dollars as they saw fit.”

Denney also noted that her caucus has made a number of changes in recent years to help shore up the teachers’ retirement system.

“Our commitment to shoring up the state retirement systems is unquestioned, as seen in recently-passed legislation forbidding an increase in retirement benefits unless it is fully funded and an annual $60 million in additional dollars going to the systems as we move toward solvency,” said Denney. “But, it is important to remember that we are fighting decades of neglect and political posturing that have put the systems in their current financial situation. We have taken proactive steps to stop the bleeding, but this is not a problem that is going to be solved overnight.”

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