I am writing in response to two letters to the editor published Feb. 13 as well as the proposal by Gov. Tom Corbett regarding the Public School Employees Retirement System ("Corbett's Pension Proposal Drawing Concerns," Feb. 10).
I retired from the Pittsburgh Public School system July 1, 2001, after 35 years of teaching. I am beginning to fill out my income tax return. After 35 years, I have a gross salary of $45,464. In the more than 11 years since my retirement, I have never had a cost-of-living adjustment or any form of raises.
I want to know if the McCandless letter writer ("The State's Pension Example Is Far Too Low") thinks everything costs the same as it did in 2001. I am over 65 and this year paid more than $8,500 for health care alone. Everyone knows that gas, food, cars, clothes, electricity, natural gas and almost all other items are much higher today.
As far as the Bethel Park writer ("Workers to Blame"), I personally testified before the Legislature prior to my retirement about former Gov. Tom Ridge's raiding of both retirement systems (PSERS and SERS) with the state changing and artificially lowering the contribution of the state and automatically all of the school districts. Gov. Ridge was modest, only cutting one basis point for the contribution while having employees increase theirs by one point. The system is in trouble because by 2002, the state and schools had reduced their contribution to zero. In 2003, they had increased it to just 0.18 percent. Meanwhile, by the 2000s, employees were contributing 6.5 or 7.5. When I started in 1966, the teachers, the school district and the state each contributed about 5.5 percent.
Now Gov. Corbett is attempting to make all the employees pay again for the state's failures.
BERNARD K. MURRAY
The writer is a retired assistant to the president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.