For one thing, many school districts (if not many around here) have already offered early retirement incentives.
For another thing, time is passing quickly. On May 14th, the state's Office of Retirement Services posted this on its web site:
New retirement legislation (SB 1227) has passed and is expected to be signed by the governor early next week. Public school employees who are eligible to retire or may be eligible to retire will be mailed a personalized letter when the governor signs. (Emphasis added.)In other words--the bill has not been signed yet, the letters have not been sent out yet, and a teacher I spoke to today told me that he was having trouble getting on the system to even update his address and contact information.
If the state wants people to retire, they had better have their systems ready to receive them! It sounds like the systems are not ready.
This, by the way, was a teacher who was already planning on retiring this year. When he heard there might be a retirement incentive, he held off on filing--and I'm sure he wasn't alone.
On the other hand, I know a lot of teachers who are eligible. But if they were planning on teaching another 3-5 years, they are probably still going to be better off financially by sticking with teaching.
Generally, the shorter the time period for filing, the less likely it is that people will take advantage of it. The smaller the incentive, the less likely it is that people will take advantage of it.
In sum: I like early retirement incentives. Someday, I would like to be offered one! But I don't think it's going to deliver the savings that the state is counting on; it has a big downside in terms of the "sticks" (as in, carrots and sticks) that ongoing and new teachers will be stuck with; and I don't expect to see a lot of new teachers hired because there are so many layoffs proposed. [There may be some administrative openings--a lot of administrators, I believe, are eligible.]
In addition, now that teachers who stick around (perhaps because they aren't eligible) are going to be required to put an additional 3% of their income into the retirement health benefits system, how do you think those union negotiations--where Ann Arbor, for instance, wants a 4% wage/benefits rollback--are going to go? That would mean that teachers, essentially, would be losing 7% of their compensation next year. I don't think that will go over too well...
Finally--at best this offers short-term relief. With or without a retirement incentive, the state needs to properly fund the School Aid Fund. Say it now, say it out loud.