Pension costs dominate education conversation in Harrisburg, amid other competing priorities
Much of the debate in Harrisburg this summer has been centered on how Pennsylvania should overcome its $2.2 billion deficit.
But, as usual, there has also been a great deal of focus on issues related to public school funding and policy.
The summer began with fanfare in the Capitol rotunda. On June 12, a compromise on a long debated effort to overhaul the retirement system for teachers and state workers was made official.
Gov. Wolf and the legislature agreed on a plan affecting new hires only that eliminates what workers currently get: a full, guaranteed pension payout upon retirement. Instead, those hired after July 1, 2019, will have the choice of a few options that will give them a split between a pension and a 401(k).
"Simply put, this bill is a win for Pennsylvania taxpayers; it’s also fair to Pennsylvania’s workforce, and I will be proud to sign it," Wolf said, standing before a large crowd of lawmakers.
The measure goes a long way to protect taxpayers decades into the future, who will now avoid carrying the full risk of the stock market. In a downturn, new hires will shoulder a chunk of those losses instead of leaving state government and school districts fully on the hook.