July 19, 2013 |
GOV. CORBETT AND the Legislature have done just about all they're going to do to save Philly's cash-poor school district, and that includes dedicated funding from an extension of the 1 percent sales-tax increase. But, that approach isn't necessarily something with which elected officials locally agree. The sales tax, which was slated to expire in June, was raised from 7 percent to 8 percent in 2009 to aid the city during the recession. That extra percentage increase brings in about $143 million.
July 6, 2013 |
Some towns have raised taxes and others have cut services as they endure their own versions of the pension crisis playing out in Harrisburg. In fact, Pennsylvania - home of 25 percent of all the public pension plans in the nation - has so many ailing plans that pension distress might qualify as an official state illness. Some Philadelphia suburbs have had to double - even quadruple - their minimum pension payments for retired police officers and municipal workers. And 30 of the area's municipal pension plans are funded at 69 percent or less, according to Pennsylvania's Public Employee Retirement Commission.
July 3, 2013 |
PART OF GOV. Corbett's so-called rescue plan for the Philadelphia school district involves funding that city lawmakers had their eyes on to fix an equally vexing problem - the drastically underfunded pension. Corbett's plan included funding earned through the extension of a 1 percent sales-tax increase, which had been set to expire in June, but city lawmakers say they had been considering the tax as a way to help the city from sinking under ever-increasing pension costs. "I think the pension problem is as diffreicult and challenging as the school district problem is," Council President Darrell Clarke said Monday.
July 1, 2013 |
Skeptics say there's no such thing as a "temporary" tax. Like the two-year property tax increase City Council passed in 2010 that, lo and behold, is still with us. Or another dreaded levy: the wage tax. It was passed in 1939 as a short-term fix for the city's finances, but succeeding generations have nonetheless been forced to accept its bite in their paychecks. The latest tax under consideration for immortality is the 1 percent sales-tax increase the state allowed Philadelphia to impose in 2009 as a bridge through the recession.
June 18, 2013 |
A pension fund for priests cited as a priority in a $200 million fund-raising campaign by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has fallen precariously short of money, and church officials want parishes and retired clergy to help cover the shortfall. In meetings this spring, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput told priests the plan had been underfunded, poorly managed, and was spent on rising health-care costs for clergy, according to three priests who attended or were briefed on the talks. Chaput said the fund needed $90 million to be solvent but had less than $4.5 million, they said.
June 2, 2013
Each spring, dutiful shareholders fill out their proxy ballots to vote on a variety of corporate governance matters, including the election of directors. The votes are invariably lopsided affairs with shareholders, led by institutional investors such as mutual fund firms and pension funds, tending to rubber-stamp the candidates favored by the company. But on rare occasions, shareholders show their displeasure with a candidate by checking the "withhold" or "against" box more times than the "for" box. That happened to two directors at the May 28 annual meeting of Healthcare Services Group Inc., the Bensalem-based provider of housekeeping, laundry, and other services to nursing homes, retirement complexes, and hospitals.
May 15, 2013 |
Just as voters find it hard to muster enthusiasm for local elections in the year after a presidential election, shareholder activists seem to be subdued in the current annual shareholder meeting season. The meeting that tends to attract the most attention locally is Comcast Corp. The Center City-based cable TV and Internet service provider will hold its meeting in the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at 9 a.m. Wednesday. But this year's proxy statement contains just two shareholder-sponsored proposals, compared with four in 2012.
April 28, 2013 |
Pension funds are probably not among the top five worries for most nonprofit hospital executives, but a Standard & Poor's report this week showed a trend that could be trouble for financially struggling hospitals. The pension funds in the S&P study had, on average, 69.4 percent of the money they needed to meet their pension obligations in fiscal 2012, down from 72.6 percent the year before and 90 percent in 2007. Most of last year's drop was caused by a decline in the rate used to adjust future obligations for the expected growth in investment values, the S&P said.
March 3, 2013
Gov. Christie's $32.9 billion budget shows sincere concern for New Jersey's most vulnerable citizens and continues his efforts to stabilize finances, but it disappoints on the environment and education. Christie swallowed his partisan pride and agreed to expand Medicaid, offered new housing for the disabled, and bolstered his efforts to treat, rather than incarcerate, nonviolent drug offenders. But the governor needs to push his compassion up a notch by restoring the earned income tax credit for low-income workers and agreeing to increase the state's minimum wage by more than the dollar he proposed.