Georgia teacher pension system needs help; system for lawmakers is OK

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Georgia teacher pension system needs help; system for lawmakers is OK

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Georgia Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Atlanta, has pushed legislation to change the current teacher retirement system in Georgia. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

State lawmakers are expected to put an additional $223 million this year into Georgia’s retirement system for teachers to keep it financially fit after the program had a poor year in the stock market in fiscal 2016, which ended June 30.

Legislators haven’t had the same worry about two better-funded pension systems: the ones for state lawmakers and judges.

The Teachers Retirement System has about 400,,000 members, including current teachers, University System employees and retirees. The extra payments have some lawmakers considering whether the system is sustainable in the future.

There are no such concerns about the pension systems for lawmakers and judges. Those two are the state’s only major public retirement systems with more than 100 percent of the money needed to pay out the benefits it owes, according to the Employees Retirement System, which manages the funds.

The legislative retirement system, which pays retired lawmakers a relatively small pension, was at 118 percent of its potential liabilities as of July 1. The judicial one, which pays fairly rich benefits, is at 109 percent.

By contrast, the state teacher program has the assets to pay roughly 76 percent of its potential pension liability. To read more about the state subsidies for the Teachers Retirement System, and what lawmakers may do about them, read more at myajc.com.

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