– State Rep. Lee James (R-Venango/Buter) today in Harrisburg voted for a public pension reform bill that would save taxpayers billions of dollars while protecting the pension benefits of current teachers, state workers and retirees.
“This reform would reduce costs for taxpayers and strengthen the pension systems so they can deliver the promised benefits to current workers and retirees,” James said. “Pennsylvania’s public pension systems are currently going further into debt. We need to take action to protect taxpayers and also ensure these plans can meet the needs of workers and retirees.”
Pennsylvania operates two public pension systems – one for state workers, and the other for public school teachers and employees. The systems currently are $62.7 billion in debt.
The public pension reform bill would only affect state workers and school employees hired beginning in 2019. It would not affect benefits earned by current public workers or retirees.
State workers and school employees hired beginning in 2019 will be permitted to choose among several competitive retirement benefit plans similar to ones offered in the private sector.
“Current workers and retirees would receive the pension benefits they have been promised,” James said. “The new retirement options would only be mandatory for people hired beginning in 2019.”
State court decisions prevent the Legislature from altering pension benefits already earned by state workers and school employees.
“The Legislature and governor cannot and this bill does not change pension benefits for current workers or retirees,” James said. “We are working to return the pension systems to adequate funding levels so they can provide the benefits promised to current workers and retirees while also reducing the long-term burden the pension systems place on taxpayers.”
Current employees would be able to choose whether to remain in the existing pension system or take advantage of one of the new retirement plans.
The bill, which received bipartisan support in the House, was previously approved by the state Senate and now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Representative Lee James
64th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing