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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 9, 2015 02:16 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pension Study Commission

While the growth in unfunded public pension debt has unquestioned significance for the economic viability of the state and local political subdivisions, as well as to the taxpayers, governments and public employees it directly affects, the Commonwealth's extraordinary resources of market and academic expertise so far have largely been ignored. Important voices and knowledge have been left from the table or heard from in the dark. This issue will affect tens of millions of Pennsylvanians and their economic opportunities deep into this century, very possibly much longer. They deserve that we jointly search for the best policy solution, not tolerate its resolution as a contest of political strength.

I will shortly introduce legislation to establish an ad hoc Public Pensions Review Commission (PPRC) to examine the current systems and their condition, and to recommend necessary statutory and regulatory changes needed to achieve/maintain a sound, stable, public pension structure. Representatives would be named by each branch of state government; state-system schools; state-related schools; the separate state organizations of county governments, municipal governments and school districts; major public employee unions and the general public.

The PPRC would be subject to the Right-to-Know, Sunshine and state Ethics laws and authorized to conduct hearings and receive appropriate information and analysis pertaining to the issue. It would receive logistical and other support from the Joint State Government Commission, and employ additional needed staff . Members would be reimbursed for actual, reasonable expenses and the commission would be required to include specific recommendations and reasons for changes in a final report due no later than six months after the commission is established. One million dollars would be appropriated for the commission's operations.

I hope you will lend your support to reach an open, complete and objective conclusion to this problem.

Introduced as SB564