Jun. 08, 2017

House Approves Pension Changes for New Employees

The House and Senate passed historic pension reform this week, sending the measure to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.

The public pension reform plan, Senate Bill 1, will strengthen the state’s two public employee pension systems – the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) – by requiring any new state or school district employee hired in 2019 or later to participate in a 401(k)-style plan. This includes state workers, teachers, judges and members of the General Assembly. Current retirees and current workers or teachers will not be affected by this legislation, unless they actively choose to participate.

This marks a historic point in Pennsylvania government, moving to a defined contribution plan for new hires in the public sector. Private sector employees have been in the defined contribution for some time now. The dramatic increases in pension costs have put significant pressure on the taxpayers. This reform will protect future taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars while still providing competitive benefits for new hires.

According to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts, “This would be one of the most – if not the most – comprehensive and impactful reforms any state has implemented.”

The Pew report says Senate Bill 1 will:

• Ensure Pennsylvania fulfills promises to state employees.
• Protect taxpayers by improving cost predictability.
• Preserve and improve retirement security for more workers.
• Save Pennsylvania $5 billion to $20 billion ($2 billion to $9 billion in present value) over 30 years depending on investment performance.
• Increase transparency.

Watch my comments on pension reform by clicking here.

 

For more information, click here.
 


 

Pictured with me are (from left) Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), State Government Committee Chairman; two leading pension reform advocates, Rep. Warren Kampf (R-Chester/Montgomery) and Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Dauphin/Schuylkill).

 
Career and Technical Education Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature


This week, legislation authored by my House colleague, Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Dauphin), and me to provide career and technical education students with additional pathways to fulfilling their graduation requirements unanimously passed the state Senate. The legislation is on Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk awaiting his signature.

House Bill 202 would allow students who participate in a vocational education program, either in a vocational-technical school or in a school district, in addition to exhibiting core subject area mastery, to show career readiness through other industry-related factors such as industry-based competency certification including the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) or the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

For more than 50 years, NOCTI has provided a battery of assessments for students enrolled in career and technical programs across the United States. Career and technical education can provide incredible opportunities for younger Pennsylvanians – to pursue good-paying jobs in industries critical to our economy.

These options would only be available during school years in which demonstrated proficiency on a Keystone Exam is a requisite condition for high school graduation.

I have traveled the state discussing House Bill 202. Watch my comments by clicking here.

 



 

Along with Rep. Mike Tobash, I was honored to sign House Bill 202. This is outstanding legislation that recognizes the importance of providing multiple avenues for students to demonstrate educational achievement, especially for students enrolled in career and technical education programs.
 
 
House Passes My Bill for PUC to Oversee Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority


Legislation that I authored to place the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) was approved this week by the House.

The move is necessary to address long-standing problems at PWSA. They include multi-million dollars in debt, unmetered accounts, incorrect billing, system leaks and a lack of compliance with federal water quality requirements. In addition, the city administration and PWSA were recently cited with alleged Clean Water Act violations.

PUC oversight is crucial to correcting the authority’s long-standing difficulties. The PUC has the power to demand sound financial practices, systemic upgrades to infrastructure and reliable service delivery to customers.

Customers need to know that their water is safe and that they are properly billed for their usage. The city and the authority clearly need guidance and direction that will be provided by the PUC. Watch my comments by clicking here.

 

                                   
 
Disability Funding Rally

 

At the state Capitol in Harrisburg this week, I joined advocates from the across the state to speak about fair funding for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. People with disabilities want to live, work and thrive in their communities alongside their family and friends. Our Commonwealth needs investments in the disability services system and options for individuals with disabilities who want to pursue competitive employment. The Disability Funding Rally was hosted by The ARC of Pennsylvania.
 
 
Human Service Helpline


 
To assist residents better access both private and public human services, House Bill 211 passed the House this week to improve Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 system.

It’s free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service provided by the United Way that connects Pennsylvanians in need with health and human service assistance available through government programs, along with private and nonprofit organizations in their communities.

The new public-private grant program would help expand the service, develop mobile applications and ensure efficiency and quality standards across the state, all while reducing the taxpayer costs needed to ensure its success.

House Bill 211 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
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