For the past several months, people have been saying that it's time to "reform" the school pension system.
They forget that Pennsylvania enacted an overhaul of its state and school employee pension systems in 2010.
That law, Act 120 of 2010, was intended to correct the crisis caused after employers paid nearly nothing into the retirement system for a decade.
Now, new public school employees have two choices: They can pay 10.5 percent of their salaries into the retirement system and get the same pension benefits as employees hired before 2010. Or they can pay 7.5 percent of their salaries and get a smaller pension benefit than employees hired before 2010.
Because of these reforms, school employees are essentially funding their own retirements going forward.
I am a school employee. I've been paying 7.5 percent of my salary into my pension system, year in and year out.
For 10 years, school districts and the commonwealth did the opposite. They took a decadelong holiday and paid nearly nothing.
Now, the bill they haven't paid for 10 years is coming due. Even if all pension benefits to new school employees were wiped away tomorrow, that bill would still have to be paid, because of language in the state constitution and supporting case law.
The pension system doesn't need "reform." It needs employers to pay what they owe - just like employees have always done.
Jason E. Geis