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Last week Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed into law the pension reform bill passed by the state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly a week earlier. The bill (SB 1) will shift state government workers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2019 and public school employees hired on or after July 1, 2019 from the guaranteed pension system public employees in the state have used for roughly a century to a hybrid system with a 401(k)-style component, or, if they choose, a regular 401(k) plan.
Wolf and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers gathered in the Capitol Rotunda for the signing ceremony congratulated themselves on achieving something they said future generations would appreciate.
“I couldn't be prouder to be here...to get real meaningful pension reform,” the governor said. “Here in Harrisburg we can get important things done in a way that I think a lot of other places cannot.”
The way they were able to get pension reform done in Harrisburg was through months of bipartisan negotiations and compromise, with Republicans agreeing not to go after future benefits for current employees and Democrats agreeing to another benefit cut for future hires, after a 10-percent reduction in 2011.
But critics say SB 1 doesn’t address the key issue driving the push for pension reform in the state: the present-day costs contributing to the public employee retirement systems’ $70 billion-plus unfunded liability.
“Ironically and bizarrely...[those costs are] the only things not addressed in Senate Bill 1,” said Rep. John McGinnis (R). (PATRIOT-NEWS [HARRISBURG], LEXISNEXIS STATE NET)