Late Thursday afternoon, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice confirmed that Gov. Ned Lamont‘s proposed budget does call for contributions from municipalities into the state’s teacher pension fund. However, rather than drop a proverbial bombshell on towns from the start, Lamont’s proposal calls for phased-in cost sharing, beginning with FY-2020.
The first year, Wilton would be asked to contribute $463,000 toward teacher pensions; then for FY-2021 that would more-than double to $956,000; finally, in FY-2022, Wilton would be hit with a $1,389,000 request. Whatever percentage level that works out to be is where Wilton would remain each year after.
Vanderslice says she hasn’t yet seen specific numbers or calculations, but she’s being told the governor has set Wilton’s pushdown portion at 15% of the ‘normal’ portion of the pension schedule. The ‘normal’ cost is the current year’s pension obligation, not the old unfunded obligations from past years that have accumulated.
Although it’s all relative, this is slightly ‘better’ than what town officials had been led to believe after Lamont hinted at his pension cost-sharing plan earlier this week. Tuesday he issued a press release saying that each municipality or local Board of Education would assume at least 25% of the normal teachers’ pension costs that have until now been paid by the state, as well as an additional share if Wilton’s teacher salaries were higher than the statewide median amount.
At the time, Vanderslice guessed Wilton might be looking at between $1.75 million-$2.5 million in additional obligations from pension sharing costs alone. But now that more specific numbers have been outlined, the picture is a little clearer.
Still, Hartford hasn’t given the towns all the information.
“I have yet to see the details behind the calculation,” she says.
Of course, it’s important to remember that Lamont’s budget proposal is only that–a proposal. Now the governor’s, budget moves to the CT General Assembly, and will face the Appropriations Committee and the Finance Committee–both of which will likely have something to do with the question of the teacher pension pushdown. Wilton’s State Rep. Gail Lavielle sent constituents a description of just how the budget process works, which we shared on GMW.