Pennsylvania Mayors Ridicule Lawmakers For Lack of Pension Reform Progress

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On Friday, nearly a dozen Democratic mayors from around Pennsylvania ridiculed state lawmakers for failing to address “systemic problems” that are driving up pension debt and making it hard for municipalities to operate in a financially sustainable manner.

The criticism was aimed primarily at state Democrats, for failing to provide alternatives to Republican-led reform efforts.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Many Democratic mayors across the commonwealth have vigorously lobbied state legislative Democrats and their leaders to join us in trying to address the systemic problems that are driving a growing number of municipalities into financial distress and even bankruptcy,” says a letter from the mayors that was released by the Pennsylvania Municipal League.

“Despite our best efforts, not a single House or Senate Democrat has embraced the reforms needed to support our communities, particularly in regards to full service municipal public-safety employee pensions, which is our largest cost-driver by far.”

[…]

Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, noted that Republicans control both the state House and Senate and, until January, held the governor’s office.

“We understand something needs to get done. … I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want to address it. It’s just not an easy one,” he said.

Bill Patton, a spokesman for the House Democratic leadership, said “any solution must preserve an adequate retirement for hard-working public employees, and it should actually reduce future costs for municipalities.”

None of the “ideas floated so far” does that, he added.

“We’re not willing to gamble the retirement security of thousands of Pennsylvanians on unproven ideas,” he said.

Several reform proposals have floated through the state legislature in recent months, but the measures would cut benefits too deeply for most Democrats to stomach.

 

Photo credit: “Flag-map of Pennsylvania” by Niagara – Own work from File:Flag of Pennsylvania.svg and File:USA Pennsylvania location map.svgThis vector image was created with Inkscape. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag-map_of_Pennsylvania.svg#mediaviewer/File:Flag-map_of_Pennsylvania.svg

 

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