'Lose-lose' on pensions
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The editorial “Corbett's budget: Likes & red flags” (Feb. 7 and TribLIVE.com) incorrectly describes Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to force new public employees into 401(k)-style plans as “a commonsense move” away from defined-benefit pensions. The move makes no sense whatsoever for workers or taxpayers.
This proposal is a “lose-lose” proposition. It will cost taxpayers nearly twice as much as the current plan, while providing teachers, nurses and law enforcement officials with smaller benefits. The AARP correctly described the Corbett plan, saying it “would provide lesser benefits that cost taxpayers more money to provide.”
The program would require the state and school districts to pay 4 percent of salary into the plan. The Pension Reform Law of 2010 provides taxpayers a better deal because new-employee benefits now only cost employers 2.2 percent of salary. There are no proposals from the governor or others that provide lower costs than this 2.2 percent solution.
It would close off the current defined-benefits plan, which studies from other states show dramatically drives up employer costs by as much as 50 percent and weakens the overall system.
In 2010, teachers, nurses and police officers agreed to reduce pension benefits and raise the retirement age to save Pennsylvania taxpayers $33 billion over the next 30 years. Now, politicians need to fulfill their promise by paying the employer debt and honoring the commitments they made.
The writer, a mathematics teacher, is president of the South Fayette Education Association and a member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association's Western Region board of directors.
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