I have been reading with great care all of the accounts of how the Public Employee Pension Fund got into so much trouble, and have read and heard that it is all the fault of teachers wanting better benefits. The explanation in the Sun Journal (Sept. 2) does not accurately explain what happened. The implication that it was greedy teachers who wanted a larger pension who are responsible for the problem is categorically untrue.
No one has mentioned that it was during the administration of former Gov. James Longley in the 1970s, when the pension fund was fat with money (or so it seemed), that the first raid on the fund occurred. The Legislature needed to pass the supplemental budget and let it be known that the money for that budget could easily be taken from the Public Employee Pension Fund.
The Maine Teachers Association (the name had not yet been changed) knew that that course of action would definitely lead to trouble and mobilized teacher leaders to protest in the halls at the State House.
I was one of those teachers.
We gathered and, with the leadership of the executive director, John Marvin, lobbied each of our legislators to not use that route to fund the budget.
Lisbon's representative was a highly regarded leader who went on to higher places, but he was so committed to that source of funding that he publicly reprimanded me in the halls in front of other protesters.
So the Legislature had its way with the pension money, but the money would be repaid quickly we were told.
That repayment never came, but Gov. John McKernan did and he also targeted the pension fund as a source for more funding. Repayment was put off to 2028 I believe, but the Legislature could easily get the unfunded liability paid off by that time, we were assured.
In the years since Longley and the first raid, no one has done anything to begin repaying.
To blame public employees for this problem is terribly unfair, uninformed and ignorant.
I would hope that at least the Sun Journal would check its facts back to the Longley years when the first raid was made and let the public know that targeting teachers and other public employees is not fair and not accurate.
Prudence Grant, Lisbon Falls