February 26, 2016
Philadelphia's pension crisis, as Finance Director Rob Dubow has noted, is unfolding like the plot of the science fiction classic The Blob . The movie's menace started as a small, gelatinous lump found outside Phoenixville. The more it ate, the bigger it got, until it threatened to engulf the entire town. The city pension fund's ravenous appetite has more than doubled in 15 years. It now devours 15 percent of Philadelphia's general fund. That's money that won't be spent on services like caring for abused children or staffing libraries.
February 19, 2016 |
Mayor Kenney promised Wednesday to "increase the ease of doing business in Philadelphia" and bring back jobs, laying out his economic agenda to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Chamber president Rob Wonderling praised Kenney's "highly collaborative, highly engaging" approach, adding that Kenney's agenda is familiar because the mayor supported many recommendations of the chamber's "Grassroots Roadmap for Growth" campaign. Wonderling said he wasn't concerned that Kenney's plans lacked details for proposed business and wage tax cuts.
February 18, 2016 |
Philadelphia's fiscal watchdog has called for city officials, the Pension Board, and the city's municipal unions to do something to address the looming pension crisis. "We felt as a board that we wanted to remind the administration and City Council and others of PICA's interest in this topic and to respectfully suggest that all parties work together for this very serious matter," Suzanne Biemiller, who chairs the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, said during Tuesday's board meeting.
February 16, 2016
With stocks falling last week to 2013 levels, it's a good time to count what this is costing taxpayers. We're all in the markets - even if we don't have retirement plans - through our massive communal investment in public-worker pension funds. Philadelphia lost 3.06 percent on its pension investments in calendar-year 2015, city records show. Neighboring Montgomery County 's plan squeezed out a profit of just 0.29 percent. The city's 2015 earnings were dragged down by money-losing investments in junk bonds, hedge funds, foreign stocks, and real estate.
February 5, 2016
ISSUE | PHILA. PENSION FUND Council gave away the store As a story about the expected shortfall in the city's pension fund pointed out, the fund paid $61 million in bonuses to three-quarters of its 30,000 retirees last year ("Investment losses hurt Phila.'s future," Monday). That payment was required by a law conceived, drafted, and sponsored by Mayor Kenney in 2007, when he was a city councilman. Mayor Street's veto of the measure was overridden by City Council. In the face of Council's strident opposition, Mayor Nutter had to abandon his attempt to restore a long-standing limitation on payment of the bonus unless the pension fund's obligations were at least 76 percent funded.
February 2, 2016 |
Let's say you count on earning $360,000 a year to take care of your many dependents, pay the bills, and stay afloat. You got lucky from 2010 to 2014, when you averaged about $552,000 a year. You were so flush that, in 2015, you gave your dependents a little extra, about $61,100. But last year, you saw your earnings slashed to $36,800. And to make matters worse, this year your earnings will be less, way less. And all along, however, the bills have to be paid, only they'll be higher this year.
September 25, 2015 |
TRENTON - New Jersey's pension-fund investments posted an annual return of 4.16 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, following years of mostly sustained double-digit returns, state officials said Wednesday. Nevertheless, according to Treasury Department data, the unaudited investment returns beat the state's benchmark, a composite of various indexes, which yielded 2.93 percent. The pension system for nearly 800,000 active and retired public workers had about $79 billion in assets at the end of the fiscal year.
September 23, 2015 |
Philadelphia will need to pay more into its "severely distressed" pension system, state Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale warned Monday in a new audit of the city's retirement plans. "We are extremely concerned about the historical trend," DePasquale wrote in his 18-page report. Philadelphia pays more in pensions than in paychecks. The city employs 27,000 police, firefighters, and non-uniformed employees, and supports more than 36,000 retirees. Fully qualified retirees can collect up to 80 percent of what they took home in their best-paid years, or 100 percent if they are police or firefighters, the audit said.
September 4, 2015
I TAKE EXCEPTION to Dom Giordano's statement in his Sept. 2 column: "The pensions for teachers come from their own contributions, the school district's contributions and the contributions of the state. " The Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System was started on July 18, 1917. It was solvent during the Depression and many recessions since. It was always solvent and flourishing because the state, the school districts and the school employees deposited their appropriate share into the pension fund.
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.