Issue One: Pennsylvania pensions

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Stop obsessing

It's time for the Legislature to stand up to the governor, who has become obsessed with privatization.

I object to changes proposed to the pension system where all new teachers would be prevented from joining the system and forced into privatized 401(k)s. Removing new teachers breaks the contract for continuing teachers and will prevent proper funding and operation of the teachers retirement system.

The Legislature has already passed Act 120 to stabilize the existing system. That's all that is needed. Stop the privatization of new teachers' pensions and stop damaging the existing system.

The writer is a retired teacher.

'Reform' fallout

Gov. Tom Corbett is pushing yet another pension reform bill. Apparently the 2010 reform, Act 120, was not thought through. If it was, why would they be doing pension reform again?

Why should I think the new reform would be any better? Some people feel the new pension reform act needs to be railroaded through the General Assembly. I find that ill-advised. The Legislature should move carefully on pension reform, not like a bull in a china closet.

People should be reminded of something related to the pension issue. School entities received a reprieve from making required deposits. For every action there is always a reaction.

Hypothetically, if the new reform bill passes, could we see a mass exodus from the educational community? What happens when all the vested employees take their lump-sum contributions out of the system? Will there be enough seed investments to compound in order to meet the obligations? What will happen with operating ratios of two different plans, a defined-benefit plan and a defined-contribution plan?

The next thing people need to keep in mind is the case law that supports the employees' rights to a pension. In Retirement Board v. McGovern (1934), the court noted that pension benefits are part of salaries and are contractual obligations. Surely we agree that we live by a code of ethics and laws. Could the pension reform bill be thrown out by the courts?

One thing for sure, this issue will end up in the courts. I will be curious as to the courts' perspective on a political party that did not in good faith live up to its obligations. In addition, will the court ask if Act 120 had enough time for fecundation?

The writer is a teacher.



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