HARRISBURG –Today, Senate Republicans distracted from work on passing a middle class budget in order to unearth a plan that – like Governor Corbett attempted two years ago – closes the state’s pension system and moves new workers into privatized, 401(k)-style accounts. Republicans plan to fast-track this 400-page bill through the legislative process in three days’ time, with no opportunity for public oversight or actuarial analysis.
In response, the Pennsylvania State Council of the Service Employees International Union issued the following statement:
“To ask Senators to vote on a 400-page bill in three days’ time is the height of absurdity,” said Tom Herman, President of SEIU Local 668. “This is one of the most complex fiscal matters facing the state. Instead of taking it seriously, Senate leaders are playing political games – fast tracking Gov. Corbett’s failed ideas in a bold-faced attempt to hold Governor Wolf’s budget hostage.”
“We’ve been down this road before with Governor Corbett, and it’s a dead end,” said Gabe Morgan, President of the State Council and Pennsylvania Director of SEIU 32BJ. “Closing the pension systems and forcing workers into 401(k)-type plans is a financial nightmare for taxpayers and workers. Instead of reducing pension debt, the transition costs nearly double it. That’s why the Senate rejected the same idea two years ago.”
“This is a distraction our state can’t afford. Governor Wolf has introduced a budget plan that will restore funding to our struggling schools, provide real property tax relief, create jobs and deal with the pension debt,” said Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “After months of working behind closed doors, Senate leaders have offered nothing more than old, failed ideas out of Governor Corbett’s playbook.”
Herman, Morgan and Bisno noted the nurses, teachers, corrections officers and other public servants did not create the pension debt and have made historic sacrifices. For nearly 100 years, workers have been contributing a portion of their paychecks toward their retirement plans. Today, they pay 6-7.5 percent of their incomes – deferring a portion of their salary to retirement – and have never missed a payment.
“Gov. Wolf is offering the first major pension reform plan that deals with real problem – the debt. His proposal reduces costs, confronts the exorbitant fees paid to Wall Street money managers, and saves $10 billion,” said Tom Herman. “If the Senate Republicans are serious about solving the pension debt problem, they should begin with the governor’s plan rather than destroy a system that provides a secure retirement to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.”