For once, I'm going to say thank you to the General Assembly for getting the discussion going on something that's a priority.
Gov. Tom Corbett has said public pension reform is a requirement for him to sign the 2014-15 budget, and that’s actually a topic up for vote on the House floor today.
Here’s a look at what Steve Miskin, press secretary to Rep. Mike Turzai, the majority leader, said in an emailed news release Friday:
“A pension reform bill, House Bill 1353 (Rep. Warren Kampf, R- Chester/Montgomery), is scheduled to be voted on second consideration on Monday. “Unless a pension reform plan for new employees is implemented, the benefits earned by current participants could be in jeopardy.
“Pension costs are consuming a larger and larger part of the state budget – more than doubling from $1.7 billion in the 2012 state budget to $6.6 billion in the 2018 state budget, and growing into the future.
“To state taxpayers and school property taxpayers, public pension reform means managing the debt and meeting our budget obligations to avoid massive tax increases and funding cuts in the long-term. If nothing is done, there will be tax increases and cuts to important government and school programs in the future.
“For current retirees and public pension participants, the reform (in the form of an amendment authored by Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill/Berks) being considered in the House ensures they receive the benefits they have earned, as they are not included in the new plan.
“The new plans would only affect future employees.
“For future public pension participants, public pension reform means the opportunity to earn a personal, portable, competitive retirement benefit. The first $50,000 of an employee’s salary would still be in a ‘defined benefit,’ or traditional pension. Anything above $50,000 would be in a portable 401(k) style, or ‘defined contribution’ plan.
“The legislation (through an amendment authored by Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery) would ensure that maternity or sick leave, vacation, authorized leave of absence without pay, disability, or changing positions or districts WOULD NOT cause a break in service or require employees to start a new plan. In fact, the ONLY way a current employee’s plan would not continue as-is would be if they quit, or their employment is terminated.
“Pennsylvania must reduce the cost to taxpayers of both the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and State Employees’ Retirement System. Pension reform being considered by the House would lead to cost savings of more than $11 billion over 30 years.”