The state's pension example is far too low
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Regarding Mary Niederberger's article "Corbett's Pension Proposal Drawing Concerns" (Feb. 10), I would like to raise a point about the state budget office's example. The state budget office said that a 60-year-old employee who earned $50,000 and retired after 30 years would receive a pension of $37,500 per year under the current law. The figures the state budget office quotes might or might not be accurate for some state employees, but they are deceptively low in case of teachers who are members of the Public School Employees Retirement System. An example of a typical teacher's salary, rather than a state employee who is not a teacher, might not give such a misleading impression of modest public salaries and pensions.
I challenge the budget officer who provided that example (or anybody else) to produce a single contract in Allegheny County where a full-time teacher with 30 years' experience earns less than $90,000. (In fact, I'm willing to contribute $100 to the budget officer's favorite charity if he or she can produce such a contract).
A more realistic "case" therefore would be a retired teacher with 30 years' service who earned $90,000 per year and is now receiving a $67,500 annual pension at age 55 (the teacher's career starting at age 25, not age 30). Alternatively, a 60-year-old retiree with 35 years' service would be receiving an annual pension $78,750. Nice (non)work if you can get it.
I am not saying that the current pensions are too high or too low. I'm just saying that the budget office ought to be giving a more realistic and accurate description of what currently exists.
First Published February 13, 2013 12:00 am