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Farnese Slams Pension Reform Process & Bill, Says Sponsors Ignoring Constitutional Law
On May 13, 2015
HARRISBURG, May 13, 2015 – Presented with a bill that threatens to strip the retirement nest eggs of teachers and state employees while doing little to cure Pennsylvania’s public pension problem, Sen. Larry Farnese voted against the proposal moments ago.
The Philadelphia Democrat said he opposes the legislation and the way the Republican-led upper chamber is speeding it through the state Capitol.
“We agree that there is a problem, we agree that it is dire, we agree that we are in crisis. We agree, we agree, we agree. But we don’t agree on the way we are ramming this through right now,” Farnese said on the floor of the Senate.
Pennsylvania’s two pension systems – the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the State Employees’ Retirement System – have a combined unfunded liability of $53 billion.
An independent analysis of Senate Bill 1, the legislation sent to the House moments ago for its consideration, said that gap in what has been paid into the pension systems and what is owed might not be covered by the proposal.
If enacted, Farnese said SB 1 has the potential to create an explosion of litigation and added costs that Pennsylvania taxpayers would likely have to pay.
Farnese said these are other good reasons why he is questioning how Republican lawmakers could take just three days to propose and approve an ill-advised idea.
“The prime sponsor of this bill said that this issue was ‘dire,’ that it is ‘critical,’ that ‘we are facing a disaster’,” Farnese said. “So I believe that we should follow the sage advice made here last week and put this bill aside, allow opportunity for further discussion, get back to the table and allow the public to weigh in.”