March 19, 2015 |
Democratic mayoral candidate Nelson A. Diaz is staking his campaign on city schools. Abolish the School Reform Commission, Diaz says. Establish a local school board and universal prekindergarten. Connect needy students with social services. "I want to be responsible for the school system," Diaz said in an interview Tuesday with the Inquirer Editorial Board. Diaz fleshed out his ideas with a new education policy paper that described a plan for raising an additional $215 million for the Philadelphia School District short-term, and up to $500 million long term.
February 28, 2015
ISSUE | PENSIONS Clarke had a plan Farah Jimenez and Phil Goldsmith criticized City Council for failing to address the city's more than $5 billion unfunded pension liability but missed a strong effort by Council President Darrell L. Clarke to do just that ("The pension problem," Feb. 22). No one was a more aggressive advocate than Clarke for an effective option developed by a working group convened by Temple University's Center on Regional Politics. That option, one of many identified in a report titled "What to Do About Public Pensions: Options for Funding and Reform" (temple.edu/corp)
February 12, 2015 |
Sometime as early as April, Philadelphia's beleaguered pension fund will begin sending out $62 million in bonus checks to retirees. It will do so despite being woefully underfunded - it has less than 48 percent of its $10 billion in obligations - and sucking up an ever-growing portion of the city's overall revenue. It is required to make the payments as a result of legislation championed eight years ago by then-City Councilman James F. Kenney, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor in the May primary.
January 22, 2015 |
Philadelphia's severely underfunded municipal pension fund is "an obstacle" to the city's long-term economic growth, a special report from the city's fiscal oversight board warns. "Philadelphia cannot continue to grow and prosper unless its public sector costs are affordable to its taxpayers, and unless these costs are predictable," the report from the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) states. PICA's 62-page report follows a state auditor general's report on municipal pension funds that also pointed out the high risk that Philadelphia's pension fund faces.
January 5, 2015 |
By Michael Carroll I confess that I am a little envious of the peculiar and controversial public employee retirement program known as DROP, for Deferred Retirement Option Plan. I like the image, the sound of it, and the opening it provides for imagination. I would also like the money. Few inside Philadelphia government understand DROP completely, and even fewer outside have a clue. As I understand it, city employees declare their intention to retire in a few years, which is supposed to give the city time to plan for their departure.
December 1, 2014 |
There are a couple of reasons the pension funds that pay retired teachers, police, elected officials, and other public servants have become more expensive for taxpayers - eating up $1 of every $6 in Philadelphia's city budget, for example. It's easy to blame the exotic, sometimes politically connected, investments in unprofitable projects and secretive far-off funds that the pensions' trustees - many of them political appointments - have too often approved. But it's probably more costly that politicians years ago fattened pension benefits but didn't set aside enough money to pay for them along the way. And they still don't.
November 1, 2014 |
It would have been just a drop in the bucket - a $418 million drop in a $5 billion bucket. But now that the proposed deal to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works has been effectively killed by City Council, officials and experts warn, the looming hole in the pension fund for the city's 65,000 employees and retirees will just keep getting deeper. That's because the Nutter administration had planned to pour $418 million of the proceeds from the sale into the pension fund, which is now underfunded by $5 billion.
October 28, 2014 |
No one wants a strike. "I often have no choice in the matter," said Willie Brown, 51, president of Transport Workers Local 234, the union representing SEPTA's bus drivers, subway operators, and trolley drivers. "I don't think it's a matter of if we strike," he said. "It's simply a matter of when, unfortunately. " On Sunday, union members moved a step closer to a strike, voting to allow Brown to call workers off the job - any time, and without warning. Question: You go on strike to gain benefits for workers, but do you worry that the people you are hurting most are the everyday working people who rely on transit to get to their jobs?
October 28, 2014 |
SEPTA bus drivers, subway and trolley operators, and other transit workers voted unanimously Sunday to authorize a strike, which could take effect this year or early in 2015. The voting took place in a huge Columbus Boulevard meeting hall packed with hundreds of SEPTA union members. "There wasn't a nay in the room," said Willie Brown, president of Transport Workers Union Local 234. "Members don't want to strike, but they are willing to fight for what we need. " Among the sticking points, he said, is a disagreement between the union and management about the size of pension fund contributions.