Trib editorial: More reform needed to curb outrageous state-pension payouts
Despite facing a shortfall of about $70 billion, Pennsylvania's public-pension systems lavishly enrich a few former state employees while most get far more modest payouts. Consider some pension-data findings from The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.
The average 2016 payout to Pennsylvania's 127,000-plus former employees or their beneficiaries was $27,722. But “a separate class of Keystone State pensioners” get “checks that alone put them among the top tier of all income earners” nationwide: Twenty collect more than $215,000 annually, while 500-plus collect $100,000 or more.
Even after pleading guilty to child endangerment in the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal, former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz collects $330,699 annually. But even big-bucks public-pension recipients untainted by criminal disgrace surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of taxpayers.
That's because they fund the salaries that — combined with such factors as service time and highest average salary over a three-year span — produce outrages such as former Penn State President Rodney Erickson's $477,590 annual payout. As the Commonwealth Foundation's Rick Dreyfuss says, “If you don't manage the base pay, then the whole thing is going to continue.”
If Pennsylvania's public-pension systems are ever to be solvent again — and if Pennsylvanians are ever to believe those systems are fair to rank-and-file state employees — further pension reform must curb these eye-popping payouts for favored elites.