Municipal, State Officials Support Advancement of Greiner-Grove Municipal Pension Reform Bill
6/9/2015
HARRISBURG – Following the House State Government Committee’s vote to send legislation that would address Pennsylvania’s nearly $8 billion municipal pension liability to the full House for consideration, municipal leaders from across the Commonwealth joined the bill’s prime sponsors, Reps. Keith J. Greiner (R-Lancaster) and Seth Grove (R-York), as well as Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), chairman of the House State Government Committee, and state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. (R-Blair), at a press conference in support of the legislation.

“I thank the members of the House State Government Committee who recognized the dire need for the state to address its growing municipal pension liability by voting today to send House Bill 316 to the full House for consideration,” Greiner said. “The municipal leaders standing with me today have traveled from across the Commonwealth to advocate for the tools they need to control their municipalities’ pension costs. House Bill 316 would provide them with those tools.”

York City Mayor Kim Bracey reiterated the need for the state to act on municipal pension reform.

“I am thrilled to see movement and leadership by the Republican House on this municipal pension reform legislation,” Bracey said. “Municipal leaders have only ever asked for the tools needed to control spiraling costs. We are not, and have not, asked for funding, only for needed structural reform.”

House Bill 316 would apply to all townships and boroughs with full-time public safety personnel and all cities, except Philadelphia. After a defined date, new hires would be placed in a defined benefit plan with a balance made up of mandatory employer and employee contributions and an employer-guaranteed interest credit.

Current employees would maintain all existing rights and benefits; however, these benefits would be frozen at current levels. Each municipality would maintain two plans until there are no more beneficiaries in the old defined benefit plan. In addition, the legislation would remove pension benefits from the collective bargaining process.

The House State Government Committee voted 16-10 in favor of House Bill 316. At the press conference, Lancaster City Mayor Rick Gray urged members of both parties to act on municipal pension reform.

“The House State Government Committee vote today marked a milestone in our efforts to advance meaningful municipal pension reform,” Gray said. “Unfortunately, it was a party-line vote. I’m a Democrat, and I support House Bill 316. I urge more members of both parties to join our efforts.”

Grove said that House Bill 316 aims to preserve benefits for current workers across the Commonwealth.

“The way these municipal pension plans are currently set up, current workers are already facing the possibility of major cuts to their benefits, as we have already seen in York City,” Grove said. “This bill would ensure that benefits for current workers would remain the same. With pension systems such as Scranton’s in such dire shape, the time for reform is now.”

Eichelberger is sponsoring similar municipal pension reform legislation in the Senate.

“The ranks of municipal police and fire departments have been decreasing due to the costs of maintaining the current defined benefit programs,” Eichelberger said. “Continuing with the status quo is unsustainable and eventually could lead to municipalities being unable to provide necessary public safety services.”

For legislative updates, visit RepGreiner.com and RepGrove.com.
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