Despite its relatively small size, the state of West Virginia has had a significant influence on national politics. Take for example West Virginia’s educators, whose two-week strike in 2018 sparked similar protests across the country.
Yet, stagnant salaries are not the only financial problem facing teachers and states: there is a growing teacher pension crisis.
Here again, West Virginia is at the center of the debate. The state reformed its pension plan in the early 1990s, but by 2005, reverted back to the statewide pension system. The West Virginia experiment is now frequently cited as a cautionary tale when other states attempt to refashion their teacher retirement systems. Critics argue that pension reform simply doesn’t work.
However, that reading of West Virginia’s pension reform is incomplete and based on commonly held myths about pensions and alternative retirement plans. Continue reading