May 18, 2016
ISSUE | PHILA. BUDGET Big spenders During last year's election, many people wondered, "Which Jim Kenney are we going to get?" It's five months into his administration, and now we know: the fiscally irresponsible one. We got the Jim Kenney who, as a city councilman, had no problem allowing the pension fund to pay bonuses when it was underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars. They say you can judge a person by the company he or she keeps. Two decades on Council says a lot. We also hear that Council President Darrell L. Clarke has plans for raising the real estate transfer tax and adding $100 million in debt ("Clarke: Hike tax, rehab housing," Friday)
May 16, 2016
ISSUE | TENURE Pa. teachers deserve the benefit of seniority Leave it to the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature to cut school funding, underfund the teachers' pension fund, and eliminate the academic free speech offered through tenure, and then pass a bill that uses teacher effectiveness, rather than seniority, to decide who gets laid off ("Wolf gets school seniority layoff bill," Tuesday). The investment made to get a teaching degree, the high level of scrutiny and competition during the hiring process for the few jobs that open up, and the near-constant administrative supervision to ensure that state standards are being met suggest we're getting excellent teacher performance.
May 16, 2016 |
It adds up: Pennsylvania paid more than $600 million in fees to hundreds of private firms managing money for its state and school pension systems in 2015. Plus more in submanager fees, and profits that hedge funds and real estate managers pocket at liquidation of their investments, which the pension systems don't count. The fees that the state pension systems reported total more than the investment profits the funds collected last year, a tough one for investors. Maybe it's not surprising, then, that professional money managers so often split these fees with the guides who promise to help them land government investment contracts.
April 30, 2016 |
The city's Board of Pensions and Retirement has hired the son of longtime Register of Wills Ron Donatucci to be the chief investment officer of the city's beleaguered pension fund. Michael Donatucci, 30, is currently an investment strategist at SEI Institutional Group, a Montgomery County-based asset management firm. He has been with the firm for eight years. He will be paid $175,000 in his new position. Rob Dubow, pension board chairman and the city's finance director, said Donatucci had "precisely the level of experience and expertise necessary" for the job. Dubow said Donatucci's family connections did not influence the board's decision.
April 14, 2016 |
A former firefighter was convicted by a jury in Camden County on Tuesday of fraudulently collecting a state disability pension while competing in mixed martial arts and earning his black belt in jujitsu, prosecutors said. Shane B. Streater, 41, of Camden, was found guilty of second-degree theft by deception after a weeklong trial before Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley. Streater was a Camden City firefighter when he applied for an accidental disability pension in 2009, claiming that he could no longer perform his job because of two alleged work-related injuries to his back and neck.
April 9, 2016 |
City Council will take a closer look at a proposal to save the city's underfunded pension fund with buyouts, an idea recently raised by City Controller Alan Butkovitz. "I think we need to be creative," said Councilman Derek Green, who called for the hearing Thursday. "We have a very challenging pension situation right now. . . . We need to put everything on the table. " The city's pension fund is $5.7 billion short of its $11 billion obligation. Butkovitz has proposed that the city offer cash buyouts to retirees who would then surrender their lifelong pensions.
March 13, 2016 |
The $52-billion-asset Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System lost money last year, trailing the performance of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey state worker pension investment returns for 2015, according to a report the system released Friday. PSERS reported losing 1.8 percent for the 12 months ended Dec. 31. SERS , the Pennsylvania state workers' fund, last month reported a gain of 0.5 percent for 2015. NJDI , the New Jersey Division of Investment, reported a gain of 0.6 percent.
March 11, 2016
ISSUE | PHILA. PENSIONS Buyouts - a start City Controller Alan Butkovitz's proposal to offer pension buyouts could help stabilize the pension fund ("Buyouts a possible pension solution," Monday). Businesses have tried to stabilize their struggling pension plans by offering pension buyouts. But this shifting of risk and responsibility can have dire consequences for the retiree. I suspect that most city retirees, myself included, lack the financial skills to prudently manage a large sum of money over a lifetime.
March 8, 2016 |
City Controller Alan Butkovitz thinks he has a solution for Philadelphia's staggeringly underfunded pension fund: buyouts. Butkovitz is proposing that the city offer up-front cash payments to retirees, who, if they took the option, would surrender their lifelong pensions. The payments would represent only a portion - say, 50 percent - of what a retiree could expect to receive over a lifetime. Still, a fair number of retirees might be enticed by the prospect of a cash windfall they could invest on their own, Butkovitz said.
March 2, 2016
ISSUE | CITY PENSIONS Money-saving moves The story about the Philadelphia Pension Board's approval of $7.7 million in bonuses next year downplayed and omitted important steps taken to help the pension fund's long-term health ("Anemic pension fund OKs bonuses, Saturday). The board's vote to lower its assumed earnings rate from 7.8 percent to 7.75 percent was not mentioned until the last sentence. Lowering that rate has many positive impacts, including requiring the city to contribute more.