Amid heavy opposition, the sponsor of a bill that would toughen retirement rules for future teachers and state employees has set aside his proposal, which may end any chances for approval this year.
State Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Shreveport, wants to raise the age when future teachers and state employees can retire with full benefits from 62 years to 67.
A longshot bid to raise the age for teachers and others to qualify for full retirement benefits from 62 years to 67 has sparked intense opposi…
Peacock said the change would help stabilize the retirement systems for teachers and state employees, and eventually free up dollars that can be used to raise teacher salaries. He said that, since it would only apply to future teachers and state employees, the impact on retirees would not be felt for 28-30 years.
But what was supposed to be a brief discussion Tuesday set off blistering criticism of the bill.
Sen. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, said Peacock's proposed changes would not produce any savings to the state for decades.
"We are talking about a piece of legislation that will not bring one dollar to the state for 30-something years, if in fact it happens then," said Pope, former superintendent of the Livingston Parish School District.
He said the new rules would worsen an existing problem with recruiting teachers to the classroom by taking away one of the incentives.
"I am hear to implore you, look at it strongly and let's put it to bed," Pope said of the legislation.
Sen. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, also blasted the measure.
Price said the teachers and other retirement systems are ahead of schedule in retiring debt, which senators said stems from retirement overhaul bills passed by the Legislature in 2009, 2014 and 2016.
"This bill does nothing for those systems for 30 years," he said.
Under current rules, teachers and state employees can retire at the age of 62 if they have 40 years of service.
They then qualify for lifetime annual benefits based on the average of their five highest salaries, and retirement payments are not subject to the state income tax.
State retirees generally do not qualify for Social Security.
Peacock planned to make two changes to the bill to soften its impact, then set it aside in hopes of generating support.
One change would delay the new rules from taking effect until July 1, 2022 instead of July 1, 2021.
The other would allow future teachers and state employees with 30 years of service to collect full benefits at age 62.
However, those proposed changes did little to lessen the criticism.
Barrow withdrew his amendment and returned his bill to the Senate calendar.
The bill is opposed by the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System, Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents and the Retired State Employees Association.