New Castle News

All About You ...

November 28, 2012

Our Opinion, Part 2: State must look at different ways to control costs

NEW CASTLE — It’s no secret that Pennsylvania faces an increasing budget burden to cover pension costs for state employees.

The same situation exists in many states, with various reforms being pursued in order to reduce pension expenses.

This week, Gov. Tom Corbett declared his intention to seek more aggressive reforms for the pension funds of Pennsylvania’s employees. While declining to articulate specific details, the governor and his staff outlined some options that are viewed as part of the mix.

Politically, this is a touchy subject. Any moves that might affect future pension payments is bound to produce some angry responses from state workers.

So on the surface, at least, there may be reluctance on the part of many lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike — to deal with the issue.

Yet as the governor’s office has noted, state tax dollars used to cover pension expenses are not available for other programs. Reducing the taxpayers’ burden to fund pensions will free up money for other uses.

That concept should have appeal to members of both parties.

But how do you do it? How do you make changes to the state’s pension system without treating workers unfairly or prompting lengthy legal reviews that ultimately reject reform proposals?

One way is to offer certain guarantees. For instance, Corbett says he does not want to make any changes that would impact payments to those already retired. Likewise, whatever current workers have accrued in their pensions to date would remain in place.

Instead, the governor is looking for adjustments into the future. And an array of options is being advanced for consideration.

These would range from raising the retirement age necessary to receive a pension, to increasing the amount employees contribute to the fund, to altering the calculations used to determine pension amounts.

Such changes have been applied elsewhere. For example, Social Security has increased its retirement age and added a sliding age scale for eligibility. Younger workers have to wait longer to receive full coverage.

Another possible change would involve switching from the current defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan for state workers. The existing defined benefit plan guarantees payments regardless of the strength of the pension fund. A defined contribution plan — similar to 401(k) programs many private-sector workers have — would pay retirees based on what’s available, without going back to taxpayers for more money.

We are sure that any discussion in Harrisburg linked to pension reform will spark controversy. But adjustments to the system are needed to control costs. We call on all parties to participate constructively in addressing this issue.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
All About You ...
  • Ramsey.jpg Dave Says: Retirement savings trump college fund

    “Dave Says” is a weekly column featuring financial advice from nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey. His column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual letters and calls on Ramsey’s radio progam, “The Dave Ramsey Show.”
     

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brothers.jpg Lori Brothers: Healthy food comes from a healthy Earth

    I am proud to know that Earth Day originated in the U.S. but became recognized worldwide by 1990. I can remember ordering baby trees to plant in celebration of Earth Day.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • stright.jpg Sarah Stright-Hartley: These pastels will put a spring in your step

    Is it just me or are pastels ubiquitous with spring? Once the season hits, they're everywhere. It's taken me awhile to jump on the pastel bandwagon and even still I can't wear them head to toe like some women do.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • Kali.jpg Kali Davies-Anderson: Experiment proves cake really is a slice of heaven

    There are few things on this earth and beyond that I love more than cake.  I love my family, I love my friends, I love Jesus, and I love cake — and not necessarily in that order (sorry, family).

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • peaches.tiff Your Summer Treats: Poor peach crop expected

    Local peaches may be scarce in Lawrence County this summer. County fruit farmers are watching their peach trees closely, not sure how badly they were damaged by the winter’s extreme cold.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hudson.jpg Culinary Conversation: Think globally, cook locally

    Another set of bookshelves might be necessary at my house very soon. It’s been a bountiful week. Edie Majesky of New Castle, who I have known most of my life, is aware of how much I love collecting old cookbooks.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ramsey.jpg Dave Says: Problems with no credit score?

    “Dave Says” is a weekly column featuring financial advice from nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey. His column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual letters and calls on Ramsey’s radio progam, “The Dave Ramsey Show.”
     

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brothers.jpg Lori Brothers: Play with names — not with your food

    Do you remember being told, “don’t play with your food” when you were a child?  Or maybe you’ve said this to your own children or grandchildren. I’ve heard stories about kids slipping food under the table to the dog or stuffing Brussels sprouts into their pockets to get out of the pain of eating them.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • stright.jpg Sarah Stright-Hartley: A T-shirt dress can be a three for all

    I love finding pieces that can be worn for just about every portion of my life.  From daytime, to work, and then on a date with my husband, I like pieces that can go the distance.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ivy_bday.jpg Kali Davies-Anderson: Happy birthday, Miss Ivy!

    This week I would like to take time out of my usual ramblings to wish my second born daughter, Ivy, a very, very happy first birthday!

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

House Ads
Poll

It’s been a unique week on the marriage front. Actress Jodie Foster married her longtime girlfriend, while a lesbian trio that wed last year, who bill themselves as a “throuple,” have announced they are expecting. What’s your take on alternative unions?

I’m against it. I believe in one man, one woman.
I’m OK with it. As long as they’re adults, they can marry whoever they want.
A lesbian “throuple?” Really? SMH.
     View Results