Tag Archives: public employees

COLA Wars: Yesterday's Colorado Supreme Court Ruling on PERA

My parents don’t often let me drink soda, but I like to think of myself as a Coca-Cola guy. Pepsi just doesn’t quite do it for me. And don’t even get me started on the off-brand colas. Big K Cola? Yuck! I have to admit, though, that I haven’t yet tasted this PERA COLA thing I’ve heard so much about. Maybe that’s for the best; judging by some of the reactions I’ve seen to yesterday’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling on the issue, I’m thinking I’d probably find it a bit too heavy. I wrapped up last week’s policy adventures by writing about Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), which provides pensions for many Colorado’s public school teachers (roughly  and a large number of other public employees in the state. In that post, I briefly mentioned a 2010 bill that aimed at partially correcting one of PERA’s biggest problems: Unfunded liabilities. While that bill was a small—perhaps inadequately small—step in the right direction for Colorado, it required some tough changes to be made. Among those changes was a reduction in annual cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments for those covered by PERA’s pensions—including the more than 100,000 retirees who are already receiving benefits. More […]

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I Want to be Out of School for Christmas, but Not for a Teacher Strike

It’s a few days before Christmas, and school is out. Students and teachers are supposed to be home, getting ready for the best holiday of the year. But what about when students and teachers are home when they’re not supposed to be? No, I’m not talking about those fun snow days. I’m talking about teacher strikes. The Wall Street Journal has an editorial today about one state where the problem of teacher strikes is rampant: Teachers unions routinely claim that the interests of students are their top priority. So we would be interested to hear how the Pennsylvania affiliate of the National Education Association explains the proliferation of teacher walkouts in the middle of the school year. According to a recent study by the Allegheny Institute, Pennsylvania is once again the worst state in the country for teacher strikes. No less than 42% of all teacher walkouts nationwide occur in the Keystone State, leaving kids sidelined and parents scrambling to juggle work and family, potentially on as little as 48 hours notice required by state law. The strikes take place despite the state’s ranking in the top 20% nationwide for teacher salaries in 2006-2007 — the most recent data available […]

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Momentous Showdown between Michelle Rhee and D.C. Teachers Union

I earlier told you about the tough teacher union negotiations here in Denver that got resolved at the last minute. But there’s even more momentous negotiations going on in Washington, D.C. – a school district that has earned a poor reputation for wasteful and corrupt bureaucracy and dismal academic performance. New D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee (of Teach For America fame) is trying to clean house, though, as the Washington Post‘s Steven Pearlstein notes: Negotiations are stalled over Rhee’s proposal to give teachers the option of earning up to $131,000 during the 10-month school year in exchange for giving up absolute job security and a personnel-and-pay system based almost exclusively on years served. If Rhee succeeds in ending tenure and seniority as we know them while introducing merit pay into one of the country’s most expensive and underperforming school systems, it would be a watershed event in U.S. labor history, on a par with President Ronald Reagan’s firing of striking air traffic controllers in 1981. It would trigger a national debate on why public employees continue to enjoy what amounts to ironclad job security without accountability while the taxpayers who fund their salaries have long since been forced to accept […]

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