The Next Retirement Time Bomb

Milt Freudenheim and Mary Williams Walsh:

The pressure is greatest in places like Detroit, Flint and Lansing, where school systems offered especially rich benefits during the heyday of the auto plants, aiming to keep teachers from going to work in them. Away from those cities, retiree costs may be easier to manage. In the city of Cadillac, 100 miles north of Grand Rapids, government officials said they felt no urgent need to cut benefits because they promised very little to begin with. Instead, Cadillac has started putting money aside to take care of future retirement benefits for its 85 employees, said Dale M. Walker, the city finance director.
Ohio is one of a few states to set aside significant amounts. Its public employee retirement system has been building a health care trust fund for years, so it has money today to cover at least part of its promises. With active workers contributing 4 percent of their salary, the trust fund has $12 billion. Investment income from the fund pays most current retiree health costs, said Scott Streator, health care director of the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System. “It doesn’t mean we can just rest,” he said. “It is our belief that almost every state across the country is underfunded.” He said his system plans to begin increasing the employee contributions next year.

The Madison School District’s Health insurance costs have been getting some attention recently:

  • WPS Insurance proves Costly – Jason Shepherd
  • “Important Facts, Text and Resources in Consideration of Issues Relevant to Reducing Health Care Costs in the Madison Metropolitan School District In Order to Save Direct Instruction and Other Staffing and Programs for the 2005-06 School Year” – Parent KJ Jakobson
  • MMSD/MTI Joint Insurance Committee is holding the first in a series of meetings to discuss healthcare costs at MTI’s office on January 11, 2006 @ 1:00p.m. via the BOE Calendar
  • Many more health care related blog posts are available here