Pension bill to cut costs

Staring in 2019, future state workers and public school teachers will have the choice of joining three retirement plans in an effort to save the state money.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 1, a pension reform bill intended to save the state money.

The bill passed the House of Representatives, 143–53. Reps. Martina White and John Taylor voted for it. Reps. Kevin Boyle, Mike Driscoll, Ed Neilson, Jason Dawkins, Jared Solomon and Isabella Fitzgerald voted against it. Rep. Tom Murt did not vote.

The bill passed the Senate, 40–9. Sens. Tina Tartaglione and John Sabatina Jr. voted against it.

Under the law, starting in 2019, future state workers and public school teachers will have the choice of joining three retirement plans. Two of the plans are hybrids of a traditional pension and a 401k-style plan. The other is strictly a 401k-style plan.

Meanwhile, Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican candidate for governor, criticized Wolf for signing what he called a “watered-down” version of pension reform.

“The House and Senate passed pension reform in June of 2015 that would have placed all employees into a full 401k-style program, and the governor vetoed it on July 9, 2015,” Wagner said.

“Everyone in Harrisburg knows that was the real solution to the pension plan design problem, not the legislation that Gov. Wolf is signing today.”

Wagner also criticized a provision in the legislation that allows current lawmakers to stay in the old pension system.

“Gov. Wolf is allowing lawmakers to keep their premium pension plans while working-class Pennsylvanians are struggling,” he said.

“This is just more evidence of how out of touch this governor is — he is once again failing to do what is right by Pennsylvanians so that he can protect his special-interest donors.”

If elected, Wagner will make enactment of a 401k plan for all state workers a top priority of his administration as a way of reining in state spending. ••