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Legislative Clock Ticking On Schools’ Pension Reform

By Andrew Staub
for The Pennsylvania Independent

Legislative Clock Ticking On Schools' Pension ReformHARRISBURG PA – The Pennsylvania General Assembly is on the clock.

Gov. Tom Corbett has challenged state lawmakers to get a pension reform package to his desk by the end of the spring. It’s a tall order, considering a massive unfunded liability of $47 million, the differing opinions about what the state should do, and the complications of an election year.

“I think members recognize the need to do something. The problem is defining what that something is,” said state Rep. Glen Grell of Cumberland County.

Talk about pension reform took center stage again Tuesday (Feb. 18, 2014) as lawmakers continued appropriations hearings, with officials from the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System providing testimony. The school employees’ pension program is now an almost-constant focus of the Pottsgrove, Pottstown and Spring-Ford Area school districts, which must budget for ballooning payments to keep it solvent.

There have been plenty of suggestions to reform a pension system that’s been underfunded for a decade. State Rep. William Adolph, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said there’s an appetite to finish the task, as long as any increases in debt are balanced by long-term reform.

“How far we’ll go with that, it all depends on how many votes we can get for it,” said Adolph, of Delaware County.

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