July 18, 2015 |
The city's fiscal overseer, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, approved Mayor Nutter's final five-year spending plan Thursday, despite concerns raised by the city controller that Philadelphia's government could be facing significant deficits by 2017. The five-member PICA board followed the guidance of the agency's executive staff, which issued a 110-page report explaining why the plan should be approved. Among its points: Previous budgets have shown that the city's revenue projections are "realistic," and tax collection rates have been higher than expected.
July 1, 2015
ISSUE | OBAMA Fait accompli rule President Obama's strategy to dominate Congress and the courts is to get an agenda item rolling by any means, knowing it will be difficult to stop. Examples include: passing Obamacare by changing Senate rules, after which the threat of extreme medical-insurance disruption influences the Supreme Court to allow it to continue; suspending border enforcement, scattering refugee children, and then arguing that returning them would overwhelm the system; and proposing legal status for illegal aliens, knowing that once it's in effect, it will be increasingly hard for the courts or Republicans to reverse.
June 27, 2015 |
The SEPTA board on Thursday approved, without discussion, changes to the pension plan for SEPTA's 1,800 nonunion workers. The changes will require management and administrative employees, who now pay 1 percent of theirannual salary toward their pension fund, to contribute 2.5 percent starting in December and 3.5 percent starting in December 2016. Also, the formula for determining the pension pay-out will be changed, to increase the value of a future pension for employees who remain with SEPTA for many years.
June 26, 2015 |
SEPTA managers and other nonunion employees will be required to pay more toward their pensions, and managers hired in the future will be offered smaller pensions, under a plan expected to be approved Thursday by the SEPTA board. About 1,800 supervisory, administrative, and management employees will be affected by the changes, designed to improve the "long-term financial stability" of the transit agency's pension plan, SEPTA officials said Wednesday. The move is the latest by a public employer to reduce pension costs and shift more of the expense to employees and away from taxpayers.
June 24, 2015
ISSUE | SCHOOL FUNDING All fall down on job Although I share the view that it's City Council's responsibility to provide adequate and consistent funding for Philadelphia schools, more attention should be given to the state legislature's role in creating the problems the School District faces ("Indecent proposal," June 17). Since the late 1990s, the legislature has ducked its responsibility for adequately funding the pension fund it created and manages. To correct this oversight, the legislature has passed the responsibility for addressing pension fund obligations to local districts - which in turn have had to dramatically increase taxes and/or reduce operating costs and programs.
June 24, 2015 |
TRENTON - New Jersey Democrats on Monday unveiled the broad contours of the budget they will submit to Gov. Christie, saying they would make a full contribution to the underfunded pension system by raising taxes on businesses and the state's highest earners. Christie, a Republican who says he will announce whether he is running for president by the end of the month, has vowed not to raise taxes. The state constitution requires the Legislature to pass, and the governor to sign, a balanced budget by next Tuesday.
May 14, 2015 |
When the Rendell administration created the Philadelphia pension perk known as DROP in 1999, it was out of a simple notion - that some employees who were about to retire were so essential that the city had to find a way to keep them working while a replacement was found. Almost right away, however, the Deferred Retirement Option Plan became a way for city workers with at least 10 years on the job to get a nice little pay bump (sometimes not so little) upon retiring. That send-off check has cost the beleaguered pension fund millions it cannot afford.
May 8, 2015 |
TRENTON - The Christie administration on Wednesday told the New Jersey Supreme Court that granting public workers a contractual right to pension funding would violate the state constitution and place a "fiscal stranglehold on the state in perpetuity. " Hearing oral arguments in Gov. Christie's appeal of a ruling that he violated his own pension law, the justices wrestled with questions over the separation of powers and budget priorities. The case revolves around how to interpret a 2011 law that Christie and others said was designed to shore up New Jersey's chronically underfunded pension system by requiring both the state and public workers to contribute more money.
April 27, 2015 |
With less than a month before the May 19 primary, the six Democrats running for mayor have yet to talk about the $5.7 billion dark cloud that threatens to snuff out their campaign promises of universal prekindergarten, cuts in the wage tax, and other costly pledges. That cloud looming over the candidates' plans, the city's unfunded pension liability, has been there for decades, and it grows with every passing year. "The municipal pension crisis - and it is a crisis - is the No. 1 issue for the future of the city," said Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen, who served as chief of staff to Ed Rendell when Rendell was mayor.
April 23, 2015 |
Philadelphia's ravenous pension fund will be the next mayor's greatest financial challenge. It eats an increasing portion of the city budget, leaving less money for police, parks, libraries, and other services. The troubled pension fund is expected to consume 15.5 percent of the budget this year. The government's contribution has grown more than 160 percent since 2004, according to the city's financial plan, even as the share of obligations covered has dropped below 50 percent. Mayor Nutter offered a partial solution when he proposed selling the Philadelphia Gas Works, which would have yielded a substantial infusion of cash and significantly reduced the burden of contributions.