State, Teachers Agree On Retirement Changes

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(Host) The state’s largest teachers’ union and the state treasurer have reached an agreement that should save the state about $15 million a year in teachers’ retirement costs.

The deal includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 65. But under the agreement, teachers who have served for 25 years or more would win the right to have their spouses covered under retiree health plans. And retired teachers would also qualify for larger retirement benefits.

State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding helped negotiate the agreement.

(Spaulding) "On one hand, people will probably work a little longer. On the other hand, they will retire with a bigger benefit in less time."

(Host) Joel Cook of the Vermont National Education Association says the deal calls for teachers to pay an average of about $500 more a year to cover retirement costs.

(Cook) "What we brought to the stage was a willingness of teachers to consider working a bit longer and paying a bit more and a firm resistance to their getting less when they retire. What we’ve all produced is better: teachers working a bit longer, paying a bit more, but getting more when they retire."

(Host) House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Peter Shumlin had called on the treasurer and the teacher’s union to draft a compromise. Shumlin said the deal is an important step in resolving the state’s budget problems.

(Shumlin) "And I got to say that this is as good an example as I’ve seen of people coming to the table, making really tough choices, making sacrifices."

(Host) The teachers’ retirement agreement still has to be approved by the full Legislature.

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