Legislators hoping to enjoy a few days of R&R this week may find a less than warm homecoming from local educators in their districts. The Wilmington Star News writes in a Tuesday editorial:
The state Senate’s budget plan would eliminate retiree health-care benefits for teachers (and any other state employees) hired after Jan. 1. 2016.
It’s not hard to see why: Health-care benefits for old people can be expensive.
On the other hand, teachers — especially North Carolina teachers — endure years of pay far lower than they could get in the private sector. Part of the trade-off is that they can expect generous — well, comfortable, well, adequate — pensions and benefits to tide them through their golden years.
Not any more, if the Senate has its way. A lot of the incentive for sticking with the public school system would be knocked away.
Officials in the state employees’ association complain that the state has been adding surcharges and other fees to its health plan for years. The increase, more than $1,300 per year for a typical state employee, active or retired — more than wipes out any pay increase that teachers and others have received in many years.
Teachers aren’t eligible for full health benefits as retirees until they’ve served for 20 years.
This comes on top of a Senate proposal to eliminate 8,500 teachers’ assistant positions across the state. The cuts supposedly would pay for around 2,000 new teacher positions to reduce class size.
In fact, eliminating those positions — more than one-third of the teachers’ assistants in the state — would cause problems in the classroom.