Culver City Observer -

By Neil Rubenstein
Observer Columnist 

Teachers Pensions Beat Others by 3-1 MarginBy Neil Rubenstein


September 20, 2018

In an ironic twist, a recent study by the nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners has found that the rising costs of teacher pension plans are starting to eat into their own salary hikes.

Teachers, and their unions, often complain about low salaries. The research from Bellwether shows that, since 1994, teacher salaries have failed to keep pace with inflation.

But total compensation for teachers has risen faster than inflation when non-salary benefits, such as insurance and retirement, are included.

Chad Aldeman, an associate partner at Bellwether, says lack of money isn’t why teacher salaries aren’t rising.

“Even after adjusting for inflation and rising student enrollment, total school spending is up,” Aldeman reports.

“It’s not for lack of money spent on teachers, either. Districts are allocating about the same portion of their budgets to instructional costs – including salaries, wages, and benefits for teachers – as they did 20 years ago.”

Aldeman notes that teachers have the highest retirement benefits of almost any profession.

“While the average civilian employee receives $1.78 for retirement benefits per hour of work, public school teachers receive $6.22 per hour [more than three times that amount] in retirement compensation,” Aldeman’s report says.

To be fair, teachers pay part of their salary into a taxpayer-backed pension fund.

When the fund does well, retired teachers do too.

But when the fund doesn’t make its financial goals, a deal that California lawmakers signed years ago essentially requires other state residents to make-up the difference—usually through higher property- or sales-taxes, like the ones that Culver’s government officials and its employees want you to approve in November.

Senator: Culver in Bad Financial Shape

Culver City is listed by State Sen. John Moorlach as being in one of most egregiously worst financial positions of the 482 cities that recently filed documents with Sacramento.

Meantime, our Council just moved $10 million from the City’s reserve fund, setting aside those funds by placing them into an irrevocable trust and making them only available to pay for City employees’ retirements.

This financial move should reassure City employees nearing retirement that their hefty pensions will be paid.

But what does the Council’s newly formed trust really do to alleviate the almost $4,000 tax burden for every man, women and child in Culver City who don’t work for our local government?

This commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Observer. Previous columns by Neil Rubenstein can be found at


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