Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Municipal pensions underfunded by billions

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 19, 2015 11:26 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, January 20, 2015:

More than 500 Pennsylvania municipalities' pension funds are considered "distressed" because they're funded at less than 90%.  Some Pennsylvania cities, boroughs, and townships currently have pension funds at lower than 50%.

State law impacts public employees' ability to negotiate their contracts, making this issue of particular concern to lawmakers in Harrisburg.

Last week, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that in total Pennsylvania's municipal pension funds have a $7.7 billion liability.

Legislation is expected to be proposed this year that will seek to eliminate some of the liability over the long term.

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Richard Schuettler

Solutions to the funding shortage as well as their potential outcomes involve several options. To explain how Pennsylvanians in municipal service and the communities who depend on them might be affected, Smart Talk features Pennsylvania Municipal League Executive Director Richard Schuettler.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-01-20 09:28

    Thomas from Lancaster emails:

    i am both paying into a municipal pension (county of lancaster, pa) and i am also a retiree under the state pension systems with multiple service. (i worked both for the state and a local school district) all i know is that the state pension was OVER FUNDED until around 2002. what i do not understand is why did the employer be it the schools, state and all of these local municipalities not keep their end of the contract and pay into the pension scheme like they should have. the employee is obligated to do so, why not the employer?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-01-20 09:38

    Elizabeth from Carlisle emails:

    Wouldn’t consolidating many of our small municipalities help? All these duplicated services/workers?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-01-20 09:55

    Francis from Kingston emails:

    I am a professional Firefighter whose town has a MMO of near a million dollars is the State planning any help with the yearly MMO that town must pay or face penalties yearly?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-01-20 09:57

    Dave emails:

    I haven't heard anything about the pa state police pension? A state trooper can retire at age 46 with a 75% pension for life?

  • Jeremy img 2015-01-20 19:41

    I wish the PA Municipal League would dedicate as much energy as they do toward Act 111 reform, to lobbying the state legislature to give municipalities broader taxing authority, i.e. liquor sales tax, and hotel bed tax. In Chambersburg we have had several liquor licensed chain restaurants and several hotels open up in the last few years, making for a disproportionate amount of work for our police and fire departments, but other than the property tax these establishments pay, they generate no additional revenue for the municipality providing the services. It's a shame that the legislature puts the burden for this solely on property owners.

  • Valen Smith img 2015-03-18 05:45

    Just another result of low interest rates. It makes it nearly impossible for pension plans to make a consistent return to meet their plans objectives. They would not be nearly as under water if we hadn't had low interest rates. The Fed should be taken to task for this problem alone. It may be that the plans objectives are also out of control but there is lots of blame to go around. The pensions will collapse, it's inevitable. The question is whether we learn a lesson from this historic precedent - trust no one when it comes to your money and use UK payday loan responsibly.