COVID-19’s harsh impact on state pension systems and school districts: Alix Ollivier

Posted on: April 9, 2020

CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, has $107 billion in unfunded liabilities. This has led to new stress on school district budgets. A new Jan. 2020 report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) found: “Since 2013-14, districts’ pension costs have increased by $4.7 billion — more than doubling. For 2020-21, we expect total school district pension costs to increase by at least another $800 million.”

An independent research center — Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) — examined this question in a report on the Sacramento City Unified School District, also finding that “unaffordable teacher benefits, however well-intentioned, will impact district budgets if not addressed.”

The PACE report on Sacramento was part of a series examining how unfunded pension liabilities threaten education equity and school district budgets. In another report, PACE found wealthy taxpayers in Marin nixed a proposed tax increase because they didn’t think the money would make its way into local classrooms. “Due to growing concern that dollars are not reaching schools, but instead being used to fund pensions, parcel taxes have faced increasing opposition in Marin County,” PACE wrote.

To read the rest of this column in the Orange County Register, please click here.

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