More than 6,000 Pennsylvania public school teachers have been laid off in the last few years. Rapidly rising pension costs have been one of the driving factors — clearly showing why pension reform is needed now (“State surplus may provide temporary relief for Pa. pension problems,” April 12 and TribLIVE.com).
But not according to government union leaders lobbying against reform. State pension costs are $69 million less than budgeted this year because of “smaller-than-expected payrolls” (i.e., teacher layoffs). Is this really the “encouraging news” that Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Wythe Keever says it is?
Mr. Keever continues, “(I)f there were little reason for lawmakers to support (Gov. Tom) Corbett's pension plan before, there's even less reason to do so now.”
But this one-year surplus is just a speck in the ocean of pension debt. Given the $29.5 billion liability in Pennsylvania's pension fund for school employees, we'd need a $69 million surplus every year for the next 427 years.
This temporary surplus should not be used as an excuse to leave the broken pension system intact. Instead, it should serve as a warning to those destined to feel the lasting effects of payroll cuts, including teachers and their students.
With a teacher retirement plan modeled after the 401(k), our schools wouldn't be mired in a pension-funding crisis at all. And we could have avoided mass teacher layoffs.
The writer is policy analyst and communications officer for the Commonwealth Foundation.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Failing to lead
- Boys, girls & toys
- Corbett, the reformer
- ‘Badges’ before Brooks
- Miss Penney’s catalog
- ‘PC’ Ebola approach deadly
- GOP: Integrity
- Thanks for nothing
- Far-left continuation
- Find hilarity in the headlines
- Behind tax inversions