State Pensions

Pension
10:41 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Report: State Worker Pensions Set 'Arbitrarily'

It seems that every few months Pennsylvania’s famously underfunded public pension systems receive some new low ranking or grade. The latest reproach takes issue with the way pension payouts are determined – based on age and years worked.

A report by the nonpartisan Urban Institute calls the rules setting state retirement benefits arbitrary. It restricted its analysis to employees hired in 2013 who will receive pension benefits through the State Employee Retirement System, or SERS:

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon September 1, 2014

How the Rate of Return Affects State Public Pension Debt

The state owes about $50 billion to its two public pension funds, which pay out retirement benefits to state and public school employees.
               
But the debt would be larger if one little figure were adjusted: the rate of return.

It’s what the pension funds assume they’ll make on investments. The higher it is, the less the commonwealth must pay up front for retirement benefits.

The current rate is seven-and-a-half percent, and some economists say it would be more realistic if it were lowered.

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Pension Reform
5:34 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Corbett Touts Tobash's Pension Reform Plan in Shaler Township

Governor Tom Corbett talks pension reform with Alice Beckett-Rumberger (center), of the non-profit North Allegheny Foundation, and Tara Fisher, vice president of the North Allegheny School District board.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Less than a week after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett ended the budget standoff with the state Legislature, he’s setting a new deadline for pension reform: election season.

Corbett was in Shaler Township Monday afternoon pushing an overhaul of the public pension system, which he said is necessary to help struggling school districts and stem the wave of rising property taxes.

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Pension reform
10:00 am
Thu June 5, 2014

PA House Leader Leaves Door Open to Defer Pension Payments

The Pennsylvania House Majority Leader isn’t ruling out a move to trim the state’s scheduled payments toward its pension debt.

“There’s not an appetite to reduce the collars (scheduled payments) in the House,” said Representative Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), as he stressed the need for an overhaul to pension benefits for future employees.

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Government & Politics
10:55 am
Mon June 2, 2014

State Pension Beat: Of Debt And Design Changes

Democratic and Republican state lawmakers differ as to whether it matters that a plan to change pension benefits doesn't take a big bite out of the massive debt the state has already accrued.

The Republican plan to change pension benefits for future state and school employees would bring savings — just not the kind that would help the state pay off pension debt much faster than existing law requires.

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Government & Politics
7:06 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Pension Overhaul Plan Could Save $11B For State Over 30 Years, Actuary Says

House lawmakers have the actuarial analysis they need to start collecting votes on a measure to overhaul the state’s pension plans.

A state commission central to the debate over changing public pension benefits in Pennsylvania says its consulting actuary finds that the amended House proposal would save more than $11 billion for the commonwealth over a 30-year span.

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State Pensions
8:01 am
Tue February 4, 2014

PA Auditor General to Governor: Fully Fund Pensions, Cut Corporate Tax Breaks

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said at a news conference Monday that he’ll soon begin an audit of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

DePasquale said he’s looking for subsidies and tax breaks for corporations that don’t positively impact middle class job growth. He said the state should eliminate such subsidies and tax credits before touching “one dime” of public employee pension funds.

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Government & Politics
4:20 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Scarnati Calls for Action on Public Pension Overhaul

The state Senate president pro tem is beginning his eighth year with a call to action for some kind of public pension system overhaul.   

Sen. Joe Scarnati, a Republican of Jefferson County, has been re-elected unanimously to his position.  

In his first address to the Senate this year, he said the budget outlook demands lawmakers grapple with rising public pension costs.

"The choices we need to make will be many but the largest cost and growth in next year’s budget will be pension cost and we need to make choices," Scarnati said.

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State Pensions
3:30 am
Mon July 15, 2013

State Government Reform Activists Update Research on 2005 Pay Raise

State government reform activists are pointing to their annual update on the costs of Legislature-approved increases to their benefits as an illustration of why pension reform efforts are doomed.

Eric Epstein, founder of the group Rock the Capital, said the late-night pay raise lawmakers approved for themselves in 2005 has inspired the most ire among voters, but it's not the most costly thing lawmakers have done to boost their own benefits in the past 20 years.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:48 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

The Pennsylvania Pension Crisis: How Did We Get Here?

In recent years, the Public School Employees Retirement System went from 123 percent funded in 2000 to an 81 percent funding level six years later. The State Employees Retirement System has had a similar fate. The Corbett administration has introduced legislation to reform the pension systems, but unions argue the governor's plan violates the state constitution.
Credit 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Corbett and his allies in the state Legislature have introduced controversial legislation to reform the pension systems for state employees and public school teachers.

The sponsors say the bills make necessary cuts to reduce the state’s massive liability problem. Unions argue that the measures are illegal because they cut current workers’ future benefits.

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Government & Politics
6:16 am
Wed May 15, 2013

The Makings of Pennsylvania's Pension Funding Crisis

In recent years, the Public School Employees Retirement System took a sled ride down a pretty steep hill. The PSERS went from 123 percent funded in 2000 to an 81 percent funding level six years later. Its little sister, the State Employees Retirement System, went along for the ride. The Corbett administration has introduced legislation to reform the pension systems, but unions argue the governor's plan violates the state constitution.
Credit 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Corbett and his allies in the state Legislature have introduced controversial legislation to reform the pension systems for state employees and public school teachers.

The sponsors say the bills make necessary cuts to reduce the state’s massive liability problem. Unions argue that the measures are illegal because they cut current workers’ future benefits.

To get a handle on how Pennsylvania’s two public pensions ended up in their current funding crisis, one has to look more than a decade into the past.

A Big Commitment

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State Pensions
6:18 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Three Months Later, Corbett's Pension Plan Takes Shape in Legislation

State House and Senate lawmakers have stepped up to sponsor legislation to advance the governor’s plan to overhaul the state’s two pension systems.

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State Pensions
3:42 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Corbett Administration Expects State Pension Proposals to Withstand Court Challenge

The Corbett administration says proposed changes to state pensions will ultimately withstand a court challenge because they can be proven to serve the public good.

One piece of the governor’s plan would reduce future unearned benefits of current state and school district employees.

Public sector unions have promised a court battle if the change is signed into law, saying it would be struck down for breaching the state’s contract with workers.

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