LOUISIANA EDUCATORS ATTEND INAUGURATION TO SERVE AS A REMINDER TO GOVERNOR EDWARDS OF HIS COMMITMENT TO INCREASING SCHOOL EMPLOYEE PAY
The January rain didn’t keep people away from the second-term inauguration of Governor John Bel Edwards. LAE-member teachers and other school support professionals were in attendance to serve as a reminder to Governor Edwards about his commitment to continue increasing the pay levels of Louisiana’s hardest working public servants – the state’s school employees.
“As a teacher, it was a special experience to see all the pomp and circumstance,” said East Baton Rouge Parish member Anita Augustus. “Even though my students are still quite young, I had the opportunity to talk with them about the process and explain to them how important it is to take part in our democracy.”
The governor began his speech by thanking citizens for the trust they placed in him to lead the state.
“I am continually inspired by the goodness, generosity, and decency of the people of Louisiana. My love for this state deepens as I meet more people like you who remind me how blessed we are to call this great state home,” Governor Edwards shared.
He then went on to lay out his top priorities for his next term. Education was at the top of the list, with early childhood being his highest priority for new investments. He also shared his goals for increasing public school funding and educator pay.
“I’ve met with educators all across the state, and they can’t run their classrooms on empty promises. They deserve better. Our students deserve better. So over the next four years, we’re going to continue increasing classroom funding and give educators additional pay raises that will get them to at least the Southern Regional Average.”
LAE members left that day hearing an important promise – one that leaders and member activists will hold Governor Edwards accountable to fulfilling. The 2020 Legislative Session starts in just a few weeks. It is crucial for every Louisiana educator, whether a member of LAE or not, to put pressure on state representatives, senators, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members, and yes, Governor Edwards, to let these officials know how vital it is to place dollars in the budget for recurring educator salary increases. There is already a critical shortage for teachers, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that the pay here is not competitive with surrounding states. The LAE Lobby Team has already been in talks with key players to articulate the consequences the state will face if we don’t prioritize school funding and educator pay.
Together, LAE leaders and member activists will be front-and-center urging lawmakers to make the appropriate investments in public education to ensure all teachers and school support workers are honored for their dedication to our state’s future. We will not lose sight of what’s most important: coming together to fight for the women and men who work tirelessly to educate and support our children.
FROM THE PRESIDENT'S DESK
Happy New Year, LAE! The hustle and bustle of the holidays may be gone, but the work of the association is ramping up. With the annual Legislative Session right around the corner (March 9), all Louisiana educators must get up-to-speed on the legislative issues that stand to impact our profession. From equitable school funding and educator salaries to pension protection and fair workplace policies, the LAE continues to strive for victories for public school employees. Together, alongside the education stakeholder groups that make up the Louisiana Public School Coalition (the Louisiana Association of Principals, the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, the LFT, and the Louisiana School Boards’ Association) we are working to spread the message surrounding the importance of making long-term financial investments in Louisiana’s public schools. Trust me, this group will be a powerful force to be reckoned with this year. Our strength grows as coalition members continue to advocate for the best interests of Louisiana’s students.
It’s time our lawmakers understand the importance of investing in our schools, our educators, and our children. Across the state, many of our educators are working (and our students are learning) in less than favorable conditions. I recently had the opportunity to share some of your stories and photographs with lawmakers, but I’m one person. Imagine the power we would have if every single LAE member joined me in this effort. We must raise our voices together and hold our lawmakers accountable regarding the decisions being made that affect our communities. Our strength depends on the collective efforts of all of us.
It is my commitment to keep you up-tospeed on all of the happenings at the Louisiana State Capitol in the coming months. Please follow our Facebook page, Louisiana Association of Educators, so you can receive up-to-the-minute news and calls-for-action. You can also receive legislative alerts on your phone by texting LAE to 66539.
In addition to the session, we’re focusing on another important item next month: LAE Leadership Elections. The choices members make in these elections will determine the trajectory of our association and solidify our ongoing reputation as a force throughout the state. The candidates (whose names and photos are included within this issue) have offered themselves to serve as either an officer or as a delegate at the NEA Representative Assembly. Please take a look at these individuals and make your vote count. Online voting begins on March 10th and runs through March 31st.
LAE is constantly looking for ways to keep our members informed. Please head over to the LAE website and learn about the association, as well as other key groups that impact our work. One special request is to read up on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to learn about the critical role the men and women of this board play in crafting the guiding policies for our work. They’re currently in the process of selecting our next state superintendent of education. LAE will be vocal in the selection of this top official, so stay tuned for ways you can help us ensure a worthy candidate is chosen for this position.
Before I close, I want to let you know about a new event I’ll be hosting on Facebook live, Tia’s Talks. Tia’s Talks will be 15-minute digital chats where I’ll have an opportunity to engage with members on association initiatives and important updates. My next conversation is in March. Please be sure to like the Louisiana Association of Educators’ Facebook page to find out the exact date and time of when it will take place.
Never forget about the impact you have on the future of this great state. You change lives. Your impact is far-reaching, and for that, you should be proud. I know I am, and so are your fellow educators. On behalf of the LAE Board of Directors, thank you for all that you do. We appreciate every single member of this great association. As always, thank you for being a part of our family
LAE AWARDED $2,500 GRANT FROM NEA MEMBER BENEFITS
LAE was one of NEA’s top affiliates for new enrollments on the NEA Member Benefits website, NEAMB.com. Because of this, the association won a $2,500 grant that will go toward enhancing member services.
A big THANK YOU to First National Bank of Omaha and NEA Member Benefits for this amazing opportunity to give back to our members! If you haven’t created an account with NEA Member Benefits, please do so today at NEAMB.com.
KNOW YOUR RETIREMENT: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS BY LAE GOVERNMENT RELATIONS SPECIALIST SHANE RIDDLE
What is TRSL?
TRSL is the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. TRSL is a pooled, defined benefit (DB) retirement plan that offers a predictable, defined monthly benefit to retired employees. A DB retirement from TRSL provides a steady income stream that is guaranteed for the remainder of a retiree’s life. TRSL members (except those in Plan B) do not pay into Social Security, so they are not eligible for Social Security benefits through their TRSL covered employment; therefore, the TRSL DB plan is the primary retirement benefit for the vast majority of K-12 public school teachers, education support professionals, and other public employees.
How are retirement benefits earned?
In a DB retirement plan like TRSL, coverage is universal; all eligible employees are automatically enrolled in the retirement plan. The amount of monthly income each employee receives is based on the employee’s years of service, their final average salary, and a fixed multiplier that is determined by the plan.
How is TRSL funded?
TRSL is funded by employer contributions and contributions from employees themselves. The TRSL DB plan has the advantage that investment earnings can do much of the work of paying for benefits because the contributions made on behalf of current workers are invested, these investment earnings compound over time. Earnings on investments have historically made up the bulk of retirement fund receipts. It is estimated that 10.3 percent of total state and local retirement fund receipts came from employee contributions, 19.4 percent from employer contributions, and 70.4 percent from investment earnings. [Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2009. State and Local Government Employee-Retirement Systems. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.]
How are investment decisions made?
Trustees who have a fiduciary duty to ensure that the retirement fund is operating in the best interest of workers and retirees oversee the TRSL retirement plan. These trustees hire professional asset managers to steer the investment of these funds. TRSL has been recognized for its high value, low-cost investment program, and its cost-effective retirement administration.
Why do retirements matter to employees?
Specific characteristics of DB retirement plans make them effective in supporting retirement security. Specifically, the guaranteed lifetime income is one of the most appealing attributes of DB plans for employees. DB retirement plans also provide ancillary benefits, such as spousal protections and disability benefits. Retirement experts have long acknowledged the importance of the so-called “three-legged stool” to provide Americans with financial security in retirement: Social Security benefits, DB retirement income, and supplemental individual savings. In Louisiana, where educators do not participate in Social Security, the retirement benefit must take the place of two legs of the stool.
Are retirements an effective recruitment and retention tool?
The TRSL retirement plan is an effective and vital retention tool. Retirements are a proven tool for recruiting and retaining highly effective, young professionals in our schools and classrooms. DB retirement plans represent the most efficient way for younger workers to save for retirement. A 2008 MetLife survey found that 72 percent of employees cite retirement benefits as an important factor in their loyalty to their employer. Among employers, a 2004 study found that 84 percent of DB plan sponsors believe that their retirement plan has a positive impact on employee retention.
Why do retirements matter to taxpayers?
All American taxpayers have an interest in making sure that all workers can retire with an adequate income. Also, DB retirement plans help government employers recruit and retain a qualified workforce that provides essential public services. Compared with other types of retirement benefits, DB retirement plans are the most economically efficient use of taxpayer funds. The most current research indicates that a DB retirement can provide the same retirement benefit at half the cost of an individual, defined contribution plan. Also, public sector employees’ contributions and investment returns have historically paid for about 80 percent of retirement benefits, with taxpayers covering only a small portion of the cost.
Are retirements more economically efficient than defined contribution plans?
Yes. A recent analysis of the cost to achieve a target retirement benefit under both a DB and defined contribution (DC) structure found that a DB plan costs half as much as the DC plan. That is, the cost to deliver the same retirement income to a group of employees is 46 percent lower in the DB plan than in the DC plan. The reason for such cost savings is threefold. First, because DB plans pool the longevity risks of large numbers of individuals, they need only accumulate enough funds to provide benefits for the average life expectancy of the group. Second, DB plans take advantage of the enhanced investment returns that come from a balanced portfolio over long periods. Third, DB plans achieve higher investment returns than DC plans.
What is the macroeconomic effect of expenditures from DB retirement income?
The economic impact of DB retirements reaches well beyond the retirees who receive retirement checks. Retirement income has a broad economic impact, both nationally and on the local level. Almost 90% of the retirement dollars TRSL pays out goes to individuals who live in Louisiana where they buy local goods and services and pay taxes. Each year, TRSL benefit payments introduce income into local economies and create a string of economic activity that fuels other industries. This is known as the “ripple effect. TRSL pensions supported 17,932 Louisiana jobs and over $713 million in income. Each dollar of a Louisiana pension benefit ultimately supports $1.31 in economic activity/ output. TRSL benefit recipients generated approximately $419 million in tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments. It is important to note that TRSL benefits are a modest yet reliable source of income, enabling individuals to purchase goods and services even in uncertain economic times. Stable pensions promote self-sufficiency instead of dependence on costly government assistance programs.