Pension costs a gathering storm for Pennsylvania

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget discussions lately have included warnings about Pennsylvania’s rising pension costs. But union representatives say those bills must be paid.

    Pension costs are going up, acknowledges Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

    But he says the state’s unfunded pension obligation also can be traced back to a deal made in 2001, when state and school district contributions were not boosted along with a hike in benefits.

    “The employees have been paying their side, their fair share of this, and it’s the state and the districts that didn’t pay in their fair share,” Crossey said. “So now they turn around and they say, well, we want another bite at the apple and we want you to reduce pensions. It’s like, well wait a minute, we paid our fair share.”

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    He says the most significant pension reforms have already happened.

    A 2010 law, which reduced benefits for future employees, increased the state and school districts’ pension fund contributions.

    In the interest of disclosure, PSEA provides funding for WHYY’s coverage of state government issues.

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