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The war on pensions

March 18, 2013

Governor Corbett has made clear he is declaring war on the pensions of public employees. However, let's remember how this crisis was created....

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CarlHiller

Mar-19-13 10:36 AM

You are so correct GysgtUSMC!! Everything can be change, contract or not. Benefits already earned may be legally protected by the State Supreme Court (which can overrule iself), but with the stroke of a pen all unearned future benefits can be modified or even negated. The legislature can reduce the pension benefit formula, redefine what earnings count towards benefits, increase the retirement age, eliminate cost of living adjustments, and increase employee contributions. They could prohibit any benefit increases that would result in a funded ratio below falling below a certain percentage. There are absolutely a hundred way to fix the issue with minimal pain to all parties.

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Fredzz

Mar-19-13 10:20 AM

Should have read....

GysgtUSMC

Thank You,

The truest words I've read in a long time.

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Fredzz

Mar-19-13 10:17 AM

Thank You,

The truest words I've read in a long time.

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mikekerstetter

Mar-19-13 3:48 AM

Ritty77-"Mike, if what you say is true, then the contracts should be honored, unless both sides agree to renegotiate."

Ritty, it's a law, not a negotiable contract. The courts have ruled it's a 'contract' as it pertains to the PA Constitution "Ex Post Facto Laws; Impairment of Contracts Section 17. No ex post facto law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, or making irrevocable any grant of special privileges or immunities, shall be passed." The courts, including the PA Supreme Court, have ruled that working for the Government with the promise of a pension is a 'contract' that can't be broken under Article 17. The Pension is considered a part of the compensation for the work provided by the employee. It's been further ruled that the Government can't change the pension mid stream to a pension plan that provides less than the plan the employee had been working under.

The term that is frequently used for this is 'the fruit of their labor.'

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GysgtUSMC

Mar-18-13 7:50 PM

For those that feel cheated by the government and think the government is going to bow to their justly deserved desires they are going to be sorely mistaken. Contract or no contract. I am a retired Marine who served proudly for more than 20 years and my pension is a joke and 90% of the entitlements I was promised upon retirement were whisked away with the stroke of a government pen. Heathcare being the biggest loss with the elimination of Tricare Prime. I feel your pain but any time you allow govt to have a hand in your personal well being thinking they will come through with what was promised you are going to be disappointed. And btw I'm an independent. I'm sickened by the childish banter from both sides of the aisle.

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eriklatranyi

Mar-18-13 5:23 PM

stacey21:

If you do not blame elected politicians, you are brainless.

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stacey21

Mar-18-13 3:20 PM

Maybe when eriks wife retires he will give her pension checks back to state. And I agree with everything kerstetter has said. For the record some public employees aren't eligible for social security. Its probably a good things because some people on here would blame public workers for the social security financial mess.

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Bufftrev1

Mar-18-13 2:03 PM

Hi erik.. I hope you and your wife enjoy a long, fruitful marriage with many offspring to fill the years. I hope that one day mrs latryani does not decide to seek out someone more willing to join the cultral revolution that is our contemporary zeitgeist and relegate you to the hallowed halls of great antiquity.

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CHayes

Mar-18-13 1:30 PM

" Rendell and his cronies shorted the fund"

You mean his "cronies" in the Republican state legislature? I've heard some bizarre claims in my life Gavin, but what you said sounds an awful lot like "the nice Republican legislature tried as hard as they could to defend those innocent school teachers' pensions from those lousy teacher hating Democrats, but in the end they failed".

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Ritty77

Mar-18-13 1:13 PM

Mike, if what you say is true, then the contracts should be honored, unless both sides agree to renegotiate.

Taxpayers need to be held responsible for the choices of their elected representatives, and they need to decide how much they want to pay for education, law enforcement, etc and then pay it. We can't keep running a debt for these (or other) services.

As for studies that compare public vs. private compensation, I believe I can find credible reports that say the exact opposite of the one you cite. That said, it's tough to compare the two, as many of the government's functions are vital, require great responsibility, and/or are Constitutionally mandated.

Meanwhile, let it snow a ton!

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eric88

Mar-18-13 1:04 PM

As for the contracts it all circles back to sustainability. When every government agency has to skim from seperate and unrelated revenue streams to fulfill contract promises nobody involved seems to see the absurdity of the situation. In the private sector GM received a large chunk of money to keep the unrealistic pensions and demands of unions alive.

It is laughable that every agency involved in any pension mess has strong union ties... But don't blame the unions!!!!

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eriklatranyi

Mar-18-13 12:45 PM

Anyone who thinks they cannot change the contract after the fact must think gov't has limits on it's power.

If gov't can change your health insurance policy with a simple vote...even after you signed a contract with the insurance company, you can rest assured that gov't can change a pesky pension plan.

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eriklatranyi

Mar-18-13 12:40 PM

Buff:

I am not capable of being a teacher.

But I married one!

Have a nice day.

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LaughIn

Mar-18-13 12:39 PM

Very good post David Bross. Mike, I never blamed unions and I think that your wives pension should be upheld. It is a mess and unfortunately the taxpayers will be summoned to correct it, along with future workers wages. Also, my pension is far less than others who have retired within the past 10 years. It simply does not matter because David is correct, we all need to help fix it.

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gavinf56

Mar-18-13 12:01 PM

Rendell and his cronies shorted the fund and the letter writer wants to blame Corbett for attempting to fix the mess.

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djzlucky

Mar-18-13 11:48 AM

One note...I should've stated "pension" benefits.

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djzlucky

Mar-18-13 11:47 AM

Eric...in this case there IS a contract, and legislation, and State Supreme Court precedent all on the side of the State employees. Neither the governor nor anybody else can legally change the benefits for existing employees.

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eric88

Mar-18-13 11:21 AM

djzlucky, PA is an "at will" employment state. Any promises made that are not attached to a contract are not valid...and also very risky.

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djzlucky

Mar-18-13 10:59 AM

Eric88...I would agree with your last post. But would you agree that if a person "chooses" a position and then the rug is pulled out from under their feet they would then have every right to fight for the benefits they signed up for?

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mikekerstetter

Mar-18-13 10:19 AM

DavidBross-"First, PSERS is the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System. Custodians, secretaries, and all full time employees of school districts are covered by the pension system, not just teachers."

Also part time employees. My wife used to be a part time cafeteria employee at a local school district and she is a PSERS retiree.

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eric88

Mar-18-13 10:04 AM

Bufftrev1---"if you think the life of a teacher is enviable, why didn't you become one?"

Again I NEVER stated that but nice try!

But lets explore your idea a bit-- In participating in the work force one "chooses" their profession, the profession does not choose or seek them out. It is the responsibility of the employee to decide if the job fits their needs, not the other way around. Wouldn't you agree?

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DavidBross

Mar-18-13 9:57 AM

A couple of thoughts. First, PSERS is the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System. Custodians, secretaries, and all full time employees of school districts are covered by the pension system, not just teachers. Second, PERS, the Pennsylvania Employees Retirement System includes all state employees not working for school districts, they are also part of this pension debate. Third, the state legislators are also part of this pension debate as they have received the benefits of the enhanced and deliberately underfunded state pension systems in question here. Fourth, I will part with the author on one point. Even though employees did not create this mess, I believe we do have an obligation to help fix it. Finally, I thought it was a good letter for giving information in a clear way.

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CMReeder

Mar-18-13 9:48 AM

Good letter.

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Bufftrev1

Mar-18-13 9:41 AM

Hi eric.. if you think the life of a teacher is enviable, why didn't you become one? I also notice you seem to favor personal responsibility, does that mean you support the individual mandate in ACA?

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Bufftrev1

Mar-18-13 9:39 AM

Hi eric.. if you think the life of a teacher is enviable, why didn't you become one? I also notice you seem to favor personal responsibility, does that mean you support the individual mandate in ACA?

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