Numbers illustrate depth of state pension deficit

State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi brought a clear message with him to a Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce breakfast recently.

The state’s pension system needs to be fixed.

That’s not what people want to hear, but it’s what’s necessary.

Consider that the current state budget includes $1 billion for the fund that pays for the pensions of past, present and future state employees.

The budget for 2016 is projected to include $3 billion for pensions.

Considering that the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is projected at $28.4 billion, the pension impact is edging toward 15 percent of the General Fund.

That’s a large enough outlay to adversely affect funding for public education, human services and other essential state-funded needs.

And it’s probably not enough to solve the state’s long-term pension woes.

It’s time to stop criticizing every state leader that wants to restyle the pension system after private models that are solvent. It’s time for bipartisan pension reform that makes funding sense for the future while keeping promises to current and past state employees.

It’s time for a reasoned solution.

Like yesterday.