While many may be talking about early retirement, few are actually driving off into the sunset in their Overland campers — yet. According to figures provided by Pearce, about the same number of people put in for retirement during the first three months of 2021 as during January, February and March of last year.
But her office did see a “significant increase,” she said, in employees asking about how much it would cost them if they purchased enough retirement credits to exit the workforce early.
What if you owed someone a substantial amount of money and were making annual payments each year to pay down the debt. However, every year, year after year, the amount you owe and the annual payments you must make increases — significantly.
Now, what if, at the same time, you owed someone a separate substantial amount of money but there was no schedule to pay it back. You were making some intermittent, smaller payments when the lender periodically asked for them, but there was no plan in place to pay off the entire debt. And, like the first debt, each year, the amount you owe increases — significantly.
Meanwhile, you’ve got other essential expenses — car and house payments and maintenance, child care, food, clothing, medical care, etc. But, with those large debts continuing to increase, you are finding that you can’t afford to pay for some or all of these essential expenses. You could try to borrow money to pay for them but, because of those troublesome and ever-increasing debts, your credit score is low (and is at risk of being further lowered) and the only loan you can get, if you can even get a loan, will bear interest at a high rate.
This year, teachers have faced more adversity than ever before. I have heard from many educators, union members and parents how scared they are. They are not vaccinated. They are working more hours than ever. They are worried about their students. This is not the time to take away the promise of their retirement stability.
I am calling on our state legislators and our governor to find alternative revenue sources to fund the retirement plans for teachers and state employees. I am grateful for the hard work of the legislators, union leaders and educators who are collaborating and strategizing to address this issue.
Just a year ago, we were lauding our teachers as “heroes” and “essential workers.” It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and fund their pension program.