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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
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 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
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
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
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)
NEWS
February 28, 2014 | By Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
STIRLING. N.J. On the heels of his budget address, Gov. Christie on Wednesday pushed the need for pension changes to a receptive town-hall meeting audience in predominantly Republican Morris County, pledging to take "extreme measures" if Democrats do not heed his call to cooperate. Describing himself as "the adult in the room," in contrast with legislative Democrats, who said after his speech Tuesday that the state's rising pension costs did not demand changes, Christie told about 500 people at the Long Hill Community Center that New Jersey could wind up like bankrupt Detroit if something is not done.
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.
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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.
NEWS
July 16, 2014
WE DON'T often agree with Tom Corbett, but the governor did the right thing in facing down the Legislature last week over the budget and pension reform. The fact that a Republican governor is acting against a Republican-led Legislature has the political community twittering (and tweeting). Politics aside, the position Corbett took has real meaning. The governor has been pressing the Legislature to send him bills to reform the pension systems for state employees and teachers. Both funds have large deficits that can be made up only by ever-increasing payments by local school districts and the state - unless something is done to change the benefit structure.
NEWS
July 15, 2014
LET'S TALK about Gov. Corbett's semiballsy declaration of war on the Legislature. First, though, let's acknowledge that picture of the guv giving a one-finger salute to the Legislature after signing a budget that cuts some of its funding. The photo, which I'm calling "Fund You," is an instant classic, certain to be reprised. The action - cutting lawmakers' cash and special projects while essentially calling them lazy, greedy and worthless - is merely political theater. If you were down the Shore last week or otherwise doing things better than tracking the squirrely world of Pennsylvania politics, here's a quick recap.
NEWS
July 14, 2014 | By Karen Heller, Inquirer Columnist
Harrisburg is finally getting ambitious. Legislators took a look at Washington and realized they could do better. And by better, I mean so much worse. Summer is usually sleepy in our state capital, but this season fireworks keep igniting, though not in a good way. Gov. Corbett approved the state budget but cut a fifth of the legislature's allowance because it wouldn't give him pension reform. Corbett's critics immediately assailed the move as "about politics and not the hard work of governing.
NEWS
July 12, 2014
The Pennsylvania legislature finally got what it deserved Thursday: many millions less. Gov. Corbett's line-item veto of more than $70 million to be spent on the legislature and its pet projects drew attention to lawmakers' tendency to take care of themselves while ignoring the state's pressing problems. Most egregiously, they left town for a long summer vacation without doing anything to avert further disaster for Philadelphia's state-run schools. While the governor, both chambers of the legislature, and city officials all agreed to a Philadelphia-only cigarette tax expected to cover only part of the schools' deficit, a bill enabling the levy was mired in bicameral bickering.
NEWS
July 11, 2014 | By Chris Brennan
G OV. CORBETT has discovered the one thing Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature can agree on: Their mutual dislike for him. Corbett yesterday signed into law the $29.1 billion 2014-15 state budget approved by legislators 10 days ago, but used his line-item veto power to carve out $65 million - 19.7 percent - from the Legislature's $330 million budget and another $7.2 million in other legislative spending. Corbett is using that combined $72.2 million cut as leverage to force the state House and Senate to return from summer break to work on pension reform.
NEWS
July 8, 2014
LET'S TALK about governing and leadership. And no smart-aleck remarks like, "Well, if you mean in Philly or Harrisburg, there isn't much to talk about. " Don't be a cynic. That's my job. Why, just last week, Philly folks managed to get Harrisburg to allow increasing the local cigarette tax $2 per pack to raise money for city schools. OK, it's not settled. Some legislative hoops remain. Gov. Corbett, who seems to have writer's cramp, needs to sign it. And it doesn't come close to closing the district's deficit.
NEWS
July 7, 2014
During another great education debate, George W. Bush blamed the "soft bigotry of low expectations" for the underachievement of many of the nation's students. Given the low expectations with which Pennsylvanians are forced to regard their government, lawmakers' vote last week to fund Philadelphia schools with a new cigarette tax, along with a tentative move toward pension reform, qualifies as a victory. Taking place two days into the new fiscal year with no budget in place, the breakthrough didn't come at the 11th hour so much as the 59th.
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