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Pension Reform

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NEWS
June 10, 2013
By Jennifer Stefano Most Pennsylvania families wouldn't dream of ignoring their financial obligations and spending money they don't have, passing on their bills to others. So why do the representatives of those families think they can get away with that type of behavior? In 2001, the General Assembly approved enhanced retirement benefits for themselves and state workers, expecting taxpayers to pick up the tab at the expense of their own retirements and households. Making the situation worse, in the years since, the state has not been contributing its fair share to the pension funds.
NEWS
June 29, 2010 | By Wallace Nunn
The Pennsylvania House's approach to pension reform is, to paraphrase Lincoln, government of the unions, by the unions, and for the unions. Unsurprisingly, legislators also put in a little something for themselves. House Bill 2497 is being touted as a reform of the bloated pension system currently enjoyed by state workers, public school teachers, and (even more so) elected officials. Of course, if you are an average Pennsylvania taxpayer, you might think of it as the pension system from hell.
NEWS
March 15, 2012 | BY CATHERINE LUCEY, luceyc@phillynews.com215-854-4172
AN ADVOCACY GROUP campaigning nationally for public pension reform visited Philadelphia on Thursday promising to "expose" the city's top pension recipients - including one retiree with a $4.5 million estimated lifetime payout. But what the group really exposed was its own fuzzy math. The Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America released a list of local pension recipients, topped by former Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, who it said would get an "estimated lifetime pension" of $4.5 million.
NEWS
January 29, 2013 | By Angela Couloumbis, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
HARRISBURG - With only a week until he delivers his budget proposal, Gov. Corbett is making it increasingly clear that his administration is willing to play hardball to get the legislature to confront the escalating cost of public employee pensions. And likely to be caught in the middle of the fracas: aid to public schools. Speaking Monday at a monthly press club luncheon, Corbett budget secretary Charles Zogby reiterated - albeit more forcefully than before - that unless legislators tackle the rising cost of Pennsylvania's two major pension funds, there will be deep cuts in the next state budget, and very possibly in education funding.
NEWS
April 24, 2014 | By Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
WASHINGTON Gov. Christie continued Tuesday to make his pitch for pension reform and renewal of a cap on raises for public workers, sounding alarms about the state's economic future in a speech at a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce dinner. Addressing business leaders, lawmakers, and lobbyists at the chamber's annual "Walk to Washington" event, Christie said the state was doing better than it was four years ago. But that progress will be derailed, the Republican governor said, if the Democrats who control the Legislature do not agree to make further changes to the state's pension system and continue a 2 percent cap on raises for police and firefighters.
NEWS
March 25, 2015 | By Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - No pension reform, no state budget. A top Senate Republican said Monday that if Gov. Wolf doesn't address the state's skyrocketing pension costs during budget negotiations with the legislature, there will be no budget. Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said that reining in the cost of public employee pensions is a priority, and that he and his colleagues will not pass a spending plan if it is not addressed. "We are not doing a budget without it," Corman said during a monthly press club luncheon in Harrisburg, comparing the state's pension problem to a "tsunami" that has already reached land.
NEWS
February 5, 2013
By Richard C. Dreyfuss As Gov. Corbett's fiscal year 2013-14 state budget proposal is finalized, the familiar challenge of balancing finite resources against ever-increasing spending requests begins. This year, expect debates over special initiatives ranging from liquor privatization to transportation funding. But there is one recurring and unresolved challenge that only seems to become worse with each passing year - public pensions costs, specifically those of two statewide plans, the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS)
NEWS
March 3, 2015
By Kevin Shivers At his inauguration, Gov. Wolf said: "We need leaders today who are willing to listen to each other and learn from each other. " Since taking office, Wolf has been working behind the scenes and visiting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to establish working relationships. He's also met with many outside groups to hear their concerns. On Tuesday, Wolf will have the opportunity to lay out his agenda and present his first budget proposal in a speech before the General Assembly.
NEWS
March 11, 2013
Josh Shapiro is the Montgomery County commissioners chairman and serves as chairman of the county's pension board When trying to pare budgets and be more efficient, go where the money is. That's why Montgomery County, the commonwealth's third most populous county, closely examined the costs associated with our $450 million public employee pension fund. Public pensions are an area of significant potential savings, and of particular importance to state and local governments around the country.
NEWS
January 31, 2013
THE PENDING FIGHT over pensions for Pennsylvania state workers and public-school employees is certain to include enough actuarial data and ideology to make most minds, including mine, go numb. We're talking billions of obligated tax dollars to hundreds of thousands of people, lots of politics, Rubik's Cube-like fiscal stuff, some of which will wind up in court, making more paydays for lawyers. It is, in short, a cluster-shag. At the heart of the issue is a divide separating (most)
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
March 25, 2015 | By Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - No pension reform, no state budget. A top Senate Republican said Monday that if Gov. Wolf doesn't address the state's skyrocketing pension costs during budget negotiations with the legislature, there will be no budget. Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said that reining in the cost of public employee pensions is a priority, and that he and his colleagues will not pass a spending plan if it is not addressed. "We are not doing a budget without it," Corman said during a monthly press club luncheon in Harrisburg, comparing the state's pension problem to a "tsunami" that has already reached land.
NEWS
March 3, 2015
By Kevin Shivers At his inauguration, Gov. Wolf said: "We need leaders today who are willing to listen to each other and learn from each other. " Since taking office, Wolf has been working behind the scenes and visiting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to establish working relationships. He's also met with many outside groups to hear their concerns. On Tuesday, Wolf will have the opportunity to lay out his agenda and present his first budget proposal in a speech before the General Assembly.
NEWS
January 21, 2015 | Inquirer Editorial Board
New governors tend to dwell on the superlative difficulty of the job ahead, if only to lower expectations and impugn their predecessors. In Tom Wolf's case, however, the requisite doomsaying has the distinction of being somewhat grounded in reality. Wolf is taking over a state government with a more than $2 billion budget deficit, a $47 billion unfunded pension liability, and battered credit ratings that rank among the bottom three states. The commonwealth's sluggish economic and employment growth don't seem likely to help soon.
NEWS
January 6, 2015 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - The ceremonial start to the 2015-16 legislative session begins Tuesday in the Capitol with the swearing in of House and Senate lawmakers - including nine newcomers from the southeast. The governor-elect, Democrat Tom Wolf, does not take office until Jan. 20. What will happen in the intervening weeks is as yet unresolved, with House and Senate leaders saying they are leaving the door open on scheduling voting days while Gov. Corbett is still in office. The prospect of the GOP-controlled legislature's rushing through controversial bills with a lame-duck Republican governor raised hackles among Democrats last month.
NEWS
December 5, 2014 | By Angela Couloumbis and Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - A top official with the outgoing Corbett administration and incoming Gov.-elect Tom Wolf agree on this much: The state will head into 2015 with a roughly $2 billion shortfall looming for next year's budget. But while Budget Secretary Charles Zogby pointed to sluggish revenues and increasing costs, Wolf blamed it on Gov. Corbett's "failed ideology. " Their dueling briefings Wednesday offered a preview of what could be a rocky start for the new Democratic governor as he wrangles with a GOP-led legislature.
NEWS
December 4, 2014
PSST . . . Want a little fun fact about your Legislature? Get this: The 2015-16 legislative session is underway. Yep, started Monday. State Constitution says so. And even though lawmakers aren't sworn in and won't be until Jan. 6, they're already drawing pay - 'cause that's just how they roll. All 253 House and Senate members, including those newly elected last month, get paid the first of the month, including the first of this month. Put another way, the nation's largest full-time legislature, legally in session but not actually in session, gets a payday in time for the holidays more than a month before being sworn in to office.
NEWS
December 2, 2014
LET'S TAKE a moment to think about what lies ahead if the Legislature decides to hold a voting session in early January. You heard about this, right? Emboldened by picking up stronger Republican majorities in the House and Senate, some GOPers are considering exercising those majorities to, you know, get what they want and stick it to the incoming Democratic governor. Hey, that's what people with power do. It's misnamed a "lame-duck" session. But newly elected and re-elected lawmakers get sworn in Jan. 6; the only lame anything is Gov. Corbett.
NEWS
October 15, 2014 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - As the General Assembly returns this week for its final voting days of the 2013-14 legislative session, there is little certainty about which bills will ultimately reach the governor's desk. But two of Gov. Corbett's top priorities - liquor privatization and pension reform - are not likely to be among them. After debating those issues for two years, it appears that the House and Senate will adjourn without reaching agreement on single pieces of legislation to privatize the State Stores or address skyrocketing pension costs by shifting state employees to a 401(k)
NEWS
September 16, 2014 | By Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - It's do-or-die for a new cigarette tax to help Philadelphia schools, as well as scores of other bills, when the state legislature returns from its summer break Monday. The fall legislative agenda is packed with bills touching on everything from public employee pensions to public records. Not only will it play out against the backdrop of a contentious election season, but it will also contend with a time crunch: Any bills that don't get approved this year will effectively die and have to be reintroduced come January, when a new two-year session begins.
NEWS
July 17, 2014
EVER NOTICE how Harrisburg often mirrors Washington? Talk about two ugly images. Not on the same issues, mind you, but on the same mind-set: Why do something when you can survive by continually doing nothing? Washington refuses to act, for example, on immigration reform. Harrisburg refuses to act, for example, on pension reform. And the key word here isn't the particular issue, each of which is called a "crisis" despite each being unattended for years. The key word is "reform," of which there's little in either capitol.
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