State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Wolf pooh-poohs Senate pension bill

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | May 13, 2015 4:31 PM

Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

Governor Tom Wolf scorned a plan passed by the Senate Wednesday to close the state's traditional public pension systems to additional entrants and cut retirement benefits for current employees.

During his second Capitol press conference with reporters since taking office, Wolf said the plan would be unfair to people currently working for the state and public schools.

"The real issue here is that the employer, the commonwealth, did not pay its fair share of its pension obligations," said Wolf. "And so now, late in the day, after 15, 16, 17 years, the commonwealth is coming back and saying the only way we can fix this is on the backs of our employees."

The Republican-crafted measure to reduce pension costs passed along party lines in the Senate. Democrats objected, saying it was rushed without proper review. They pointed to past court rulings barring the state from changing benefits of current public workers.

Wolf said he prefers his own proposal, which would borrow a few billion dollars in order to help the state and school districts pay for steeply rising pension costs. His plan does not alter retirement benefits.

The pension overhaul now heads to the House, where GOP Majority Leader Dave Reed said it will get a thorough vetting. He said it would probably be slated for at least one hearing in June.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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