HARRISBURG – This morning, the House passed the Senate’s pension reform bill (SB1), sending it to Gov. Wolf’s desk for enactment. Below is a statement on the passage of SB1, and the importance of pension reform for our schools and teachers from PennCAN’s Executive Director, Jonathan Cetel:
“Anyone who has an interest in the viability and success of PA’s public education system should be concerned with the solvency of our public pension system. The rising pension costs are forcing the state and school districts to divert valuable tax dollars from classrooms, while research has shown that the majority of teachers aren’t benefiting from the current system.
This is why PennCAN has joined the conversation about the need for pension reform and voiced our support for SB1. We applaud the House and Senate for coming together with the Governor to craft a proposal that would provide financial security and flexibility for employees. It is our hope that Gov. Wolf will follow the General Assembly’s lead and sign SB1.
Earlier this week, PennCAN released a report – PA Pension Benefits Don’t Add-Up For Teachers And Taxpayers – that examined how rising pension costs are impacting the financial stability of our 500 school districts. We discovered that despite the General Assembly’s allocation of $673 million new dollars for basic education, 51 percent bypassed the classroom and went to fund the pension system. If left unfixed, by 2020, $1 out of every $5 the state invests in pre-k–12 education will be earmarked for pension obligations.
PA’s teachers work tirelessly on behalf of PA’s students and deserve retirement security. Unfortunately, our report shows that 65 percent of teachers move out of the state or leave the teaching profession before vesting (10 years) and do not benefit from PA’s pension system at all. The majority of this generation’s educators would benefit from a plan that allows for flexibility and portability.
It is PennCAN’s hope that by addressing the pension crisis we can move PA in a direction where the pension system meets the needs of the school districts who want fiscal stability and the teachers who deserve retirement security.”