Covering Louisiana

Apr 22, 2014 6:40 PM by Kari Beal

Bill could raise retirement age for educators

Louisiana teachers may soon have to wait longer to be eligible for retirement. House bill 38 was approved yesterday in the house. Louisiana State Representative Kevin Pearson of Slidell authored the bill that proposes increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62.

If signed into law, this would be the second bill in less than five years that has extended the retirement age for public school teachers. Karen Richardson is a fourth grade special education teacher in Vermilion Parish. As an educator for 24 years, she said the job can be enduring.

"It can be a very physical job, bringing children place to place. You're on the playground, on duty trying to keep children safe. At a certain age, that's not good for your body and not good for your classroom or your students," Richardson said.

House bill 38 would only affect teachers hired after June 2014 and allows those who have served for 20 years or more to start taking partial retirement benefits at age 60. Representative Kevin Pearson of Slidell said he is proposing this bill to help schools save money. The state gives schools money for pension plans and it's up to the schools to balance these budgets.

"The number one costs of a school system are employees," Pearson said. "I want to make sure people get their [pension] checks 20 to 30 years from now."

Pearson said this bill is just one of many that can make sure state pension plans are funded adequately. But he said the effects will take many years to show.

"This will take time. Changes won't happen overnight, but gradually it will help more and more," Pearson said.

Richardson understands this bill doesn't affect her, only new hires. But she said her biggest worry is the future of our education system.

"The retirement system that we have currently in Louisiana is one of the benefits that does attract teachers. I'd hate to see us lose that. We need to continue to attract good teachers," Richardson said

House bill 38 will go to the Senate next for debate.

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