Pa. legislators edge closer to a new retirement law

    As the Pa. Senate considers changes to the state’s pension plan, House Democrats say their counterparts in the Senate better not alter the bill too much if they want it to pass the reconciliation process between both bodies. The bill increases retirement age but keeps a defined benefit plan.

    House Democrats are warning the Senate not to make too many changes to a pension reform bill, if lawmakers want the measure to become law this year.

    In June, the House passed a measure reducing pension benefits for future state employees and public school teachers. The bill would also increase the retirement age and the vesting period – but it would keep the defined benefit system in place.

    Lehigh County Senator Pat Browne says a growing number of Senate Republicans want to amend the measure, and substitute in a 401K-style defined contribution system, instead.

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    “Just changing the current benefit package, and not going down a different route, given our history, is not the way to solve the problem,” Browne says. “It’s not the defined benefit costs associated with the changes that were made eight years ago that’s the problem. That’s only a small piece of the problem. The problem is managing a defined benefit plan.”

    House Democratic spokesman Brett Marcy says the change would stall the bill. He argues members of both parties crafted the House legislation, which passed by a near-unanimous margin.

    State pension costs are expected to spike by billions of dollars in the coming years.

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