Pa. pension reform bills moving through committee
The legislative clock continues to tick away, but there has been movement on the pension front in the General Assembly.
The Senate Appropriations Committee today is expected to consider Senate Bill 922 from Lancaster County Sen. Mike Brubaker. That bill was recently amended by the Senate Finance Committee in order to gain a more favorable vote.
The original bill included changes to future benefits of current employees and also contained language that reduced, in the short-term, annual increases in the employer contribution limit. The former was threatened with a legal challenge by the unions after Gov. Tom Corbett introduced the idea in February as part of his budget proposal.
Brubaker’s bill also would create a defined-contribution plan for new hires beginning in 2015. The amended bill would make participation in the new plan mandatory for current legislators, the governor, attorney general, auditor general and treasurer upon re-election and for the judiciary upon retention.
Meanwhile, the House State Government Committee on Tuesday advanced a pair of bills that would move new state hires to a 401(k)-style retirement system beginning in 2015.
Whether any bill can get through the General Assembly remains unclear as analyses of closing the defined-benefit system have produced varying outcomes. The Corbett administration has claimed long-term savings by making the switch to a defined-contribution plan, while opponents have said proposed changes will add to the state’s pension debt.
The state’s unfunded pension liability is more than $47 billion.