HARRISBURG, Pa., June 12 -- The Pennsylvania State Education Association issued the following news release:
With a little more than two weeks remaining to pass a balanced state budget and close a $1 billion revenue gap, Gov. Tom Corbett continues to distract legislators' attention by pushing a flawed pension proposal that saves little money and destroys the retirement security of younger Pennsylvanians, the president of the state's largest school employee union said today.
Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said, "Legislators need to focus on what Pennsylvanians are really worried about - reversing nearly $1 billion in school funding cuts, levying fair taxes on big corporations, and closing the historic revenue shortfall that Gov. Corbett's failed policies have created.
"Gov. Corbett's plan to slash retirement security for younger teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and nurses won't help solve the state budget crisis now, and won't save the pension system much money in the future."
Proponents of the Corbett-backed bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Pottsville) ignore the conclusions of the state's own outside independent experts.
Cheiron, a Virginia-based actuarial firm hired by the state's Public Employee Retirement Commission, put it bluntly in its May 26 analysis of the Corbett-Tobash plan: "For new employees, the loss of retirement security is greater than the value of the cost savings for the Commonwealth."
"This pension proposal doesn't solve anything, but the governor's insistence on passing it is making the current budget crisis even worse, because it's distracting legislators' attention from getting the budget passed. There are 18 days until the budget deadline. Pennsylvanians don't have time to waste on a flawed pension plan," Crossey said. "This governor won't support a real solution, because he won't acknowledge that his own policy of corporate tax cuts has created a structural state budget deficit."
Cheiron's report demonstrates that any savings from the Corbett-Tobash plan would not be realized in the FY 2014-15 state budget. "This plan would have absolutely zero effect on the employer contribution rate - the amount the Commonwealth and school districts must pay in 2014-2015 as required by state law to reduce the pension debt," Crossey said.
Leaders of the House of Representatives indicated this week they would attempt to gather enough votes for the Corbett-Tobash plan when the chamber returns to session Monday, June 16.
Crossey was a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 180,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.
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