Monday, September 11, 2017

Pennsylvania in focus: Philadelphia’s pension ‘reform’ hits taxpayers, consumers

By Watchdog News - September 11, 2017 at 08:43AM

Philadelphia Inquirer: City’s pension ‘reform’ hits taxpayers, consumers

The Kenney administration claimed victory on pension reform when it announced last month that it signed a $245 million three-year contract with the Fraternal Order of Police.

With that agreement, and one last year with AFSCME District Council 33, the city said it was in a position to fortify its beleaguered pension fund, which has less than half the $11 billion it has pledged to pay retirees.

But much of the so-called reform to stabilize the fund by 2030 is coming from Philadelphia taxpayers and consumers.

Taxpayers will be kicking in upward of $600 million into the fund each year, with 10s of millions of dollars more from sales tax revenue. Even with the increased contributions, the only way the city gets to 80 percent funded – a level considered stable — would be with a 7.7 percent annual return on its investment, pension experts said.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh workers, companies vie for advantage in NAFTA talks

Ray Yeager swelled with pride as he strolled through his company’s 250,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Monongahela.

Machines rhythmically pounded sheet metal into complex shapes and various sizes; conveyors dropped finished pieces into cardboard boxes; automatic mechanical arms placed boxes onto wooden pallets. A legion of workers drove forklifts to take the pallets out for shipment.

Parts made here are used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

It’s the type of operation that remains a distant memory for other workers in the Pittsburgh region. Kenneth Love worked for 22 years at a General Motors metal stamping plant in West Mifflin, which shuttered in 2008 after more than five decades.

WFMZ 69: Pa. House GOP to test budget-balancing plan in growing stalemate

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will return to session for the first time in seven weeks as a lengthening budget stalemate is drawing warnings by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that he’s out of options to pay bills on time.

Monday’s session kicks off a week that could include a vote on a plan pushed by a group of House Republicans to cover a $2.2 billion shortfall.

The plan would divert cash from reserves or off-budget programs, many of them for public transportation or environmental cleanups and improvements.