Monday, November 15, 2010

'Union pension bailout' bill awaits Rendell signature

The Pennsylvania House overwhelmingly passed a flawed pension "reform" bill Monday that does little to reform the golden pension plans enjoyed by government workers and teachers and will end up costing Pennsylvania taxpayers billions of dollars.

A number of Republicans joined the lame duck Democrats in pushing the bill through.

The Commonwealth Foundation, an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, offers some insight into HB 2497:
HARRISBURG, PA — The Commonwealth Foundation expressed disappointment with today's passage of House Bill 2497, which defers significant pension costs on to future generations while failing to adequately reform the state's largest defined benefit pension systems.

"We attempted to bring fiscal sanity to the pension discussion, but the reality was that self-interested unions were successful in drowning out the voice of the taxpayers," said Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. "Despite arguments to the contrary, this bill didn't 'save' the taxpayers any money. Taxes will still be going up with this 'reform' next year — $646M more just to pay for PSERS and SERS — and every year thereafter. But it did prevent moving new employees into a Defined Contribution plan — a major victory for labor unions like PSEA, AFSCME and SEIU."

"Yet we remain hopeful that a new administration and new legislature will begin the process of fully reforming Harrisburg to protect the taxpayers in the future," said Brouillette. "Many lawmakers voted for HB 2497 as the 'first step' to pension reform. We look forward to working with lawmakers who understand this cannot be the final action, and with new leaders who understand the need for real pension reform and controlled spending."
The only silver lining on this cloudy day is the fact that the Legislature can revisit the pension fiasco in 2011 when both chambers will be controlled by Republicans and Gov.-elect Tom Corbett will take office.

The Commonwealth Foundation has posted a complete roll call of how the House voted here.

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