In my state of Alaska our right wing republican administration appears to be right in line the with the national administration, that is, out to permanently damage public education. This past legislative session saw them do what Bush and company have not yet been able to do, take away retirement programs from teachers, police and fire personnel and state workers and replace them with a defined benefits package. We knew that was happening but now this. And all this is buried inside of the newspaper that serves the state capital.
The resignation of Pat Wellington, a 27-year board member, will have little effect because the board's final meeting was canceled at the request of Gov. Frank Murkowski.
In a May 31 letter to Chairman George Sullivan, Wellington said Administration Commissioner Ray Matiashowski and Retirements and Benefits Director Melanie Millhorn "have interfered with the board's duties, responsibilities and its members' professional integrity."
Most of Wellington's allegations focus on the administration's assistance with legislation to change the public employees and teachers retirement systems from a traditional pension plan - called a defined benefit plan - to a defined contribution plan with 401(k)-type investment accounts.
The bill, Senate Bill 141, passed the Legislature after a protracted political battle that forced a special session last month. The measure was pushed by the governor and Senate Republicans who said it was a structural fix to the systems and a first step to solving the systems' $5.7 billion shortfall.
This supposed shortfall has yet to have been proven and even if it's true this bill does not fix the problem. Sound familiar?The bill includes consolidating the three oversight boards - the teachers, public employees and Alaska State Pension Investment boards - into one. The new board goes into existence Oct. 1.