(WHTM) – A change made decades ago was a great financial help to thousands of state workers but that change caused problems too.
One of them is that some workers didn’t get that financial benefit and that may now change.
House Bill 1416 would increase the pensions of those who retired before 2001, who were excluded from Act 9, which hiked pensions for everybody else.
Representative Steven Malagari (D-Montgomery) said, “These dedicated individuals shaped our states and children’s futures. Yet for two decades, for 20 years, budgets have ignored their financial needs.”
But Act 9 pushed the state and school districts to the financial brink, and they are still grappling to pay an estimated 60 billion in unfunded liability. It’ll cost a billion more to give those left-out retirees a raise.
Representative Brad Roae (R-Crawford and Erie) said, “Local school districts would have to raise the school district property tax to fund this because this legislation creates an additional unfunded pension liability.”
“I was under the governor’s jurisdiction,” said Beth Troy who was an auditor for the state, retired in 2003, hasn’t seen a pension increase in 20 years, and thinks all retirees deserve a bump.
Troy said, “It’s a pain in the rear end, to be truthful. I mean, my, I would like to be able to do more things than I can because the dollar only stretches so far.”
“I think it’s unfair to others who have worked in the private sector,” said Erie’s Luke Davidoff a recently retired banker surprised to learn how much retired teacher friends were making in pensions and insists benefits need to be reduced not increased.
Davidoff said, “None of the legislators want to hear this because it’s such an unpopular subject and I just know that it won’t get reelected. It is a non-sustainable model or will continue to burden taxpayers.”
But also wrong, says Dauphin County Rep. Dave Madsen (D), is ignoring the most vulnerable retirees in the system, now in their 80’s and 90’s.
Madsen said, “I do think we can find the money to compensate these people that made our quality of life better throughout all the years.”
The bill is on to the Senate majority leader Joe Pittman (R) who tells abc27 that he has genuine empathy for those pre-2001 retirees but also has serious concerns about the fragile nature of the pension system.