Ignoring Pension Costs Won’t Work

We’ve mentioned before the big lie of “$1 billion cut from education.” 

Part of the reason that lie continues is that union executives ignore a big chunk of education spending. For instance, the PSEA doesn’t count payments toward teacher pensions as “education spending” when making their allegations. 

While it is absurd to suggest payments for teachers’ pensions “doesn’t go to the classroom,” excluding employee benefits from instructional spending means less than half of the $26 billion public schools spend “goes to the classroom.” Employee benefits consume 19 percent of public school spending, with construction and debt costs another 13 percent and support services (less employee benefits) 21 percent. 

What is more, those categories are among the fastest-growing among school spending.

Here is a shocking statistic: Since 2002-03, school district spending on employees’ salaries grew 22 percent, but spending on benefits grew a whopping 108 percent, largely because of pension payments.

PA School Spending Growth by Category

It is pretty obvious that employee benefits are consuming more and more of school spending — whether union executives want to count this as “classroom spending” or something else.

So what does the PSEA want to do to fix this runaway growth? Nothing.