The article, “Double Dip Debate Before Legislature,” on March 11 is another over-simplified version of real and complex problems.

How does one explain issues of such depth and detail? How about some simple honesty?

The core of the problem is that the retirement system is underfunded. Its viability relies upon sufficient yearly contributions, steady long-term market growth and careful husbandry, just like our personal retirement savings.

The Great Recession is a wrench in those gears just like the Legislature’s decision years ago to raid the retirement fund to balance the state budget. Those created a pretty big hole in the growth factor.

When it became clear that this was not sustainable, they cut the benefits to current and future retirees, those same people who had spent decades holding up their end of that bargain. For some, that means working past retirement age. For others, it means going back to work.

Then the Legislature passed laws that prohibit or limit their rights to go back to work, or limit the amount they can earn if they do. Except for those at the top; they get to double dip with immunity. Commissioner Sawin Millett, the poster child for double dipping, is now “concerned” about double dipping abuse.

The funding solutions will be difficult and expensive because the Legislature has compounded the problem with decades of neglect. Politicians have blamed public employees for collecting their retirements. We paid our contributions, we committed ourselves to the work of public service, and we rely on our pensions and benefits. If they are insufficient in these economic times, we shouldn’t be punished for returning to our professions to support ourselves.

Ultimately, we will all have to share the responsibility. Let’s share some honesty at the same time.

Larry Morrissette, retired teacher

Hallowell


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