State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is planning an audit into how money is managed in Pennsylvania's two biggest employee retirement systems. (AP file photo)
July 31, 2016

Amid federal investigation, Pa. pension systems to be audited

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is planning an audit of how money's being managed in Pennsylvania's two biggest employee retirement systems.

An ambulance drives in downtown Scranton, Pa. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis)
March 18, 2016

Scranton settles on payment terms for 2011 union judgement

The city negotiated lower interest rates and pension reform.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at the Trolley Car Cafe in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
March 9, 2016

Pennsylvania pension systems say they've cut management fees

Pennsylvania's two large public-sector pension systems say they've reduced their investment management fees by millions of dollars.

(Mary Wilson/WITF)
February 25, 2016

New clock shows state’s public pension liability

"Unfunded liability" rolls off the tongue about as easily as "high cholesterol," "structural deficit," and "negative cash flow." It may not sound dire, but it's a slow and silent killer.

David Carmichael, director of Pennsylvania State Archives, looks though one of many boxes that holds permanent pension records in Harrisburg, Pa. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
February 14, 2016

Lawmakers sue over dismantling of pensions watchdog

Two Republican lawmakers from the midstate have filed a lawsuit to block Gov. Wolf from abolishing a state agency without involving the legislature.

Gov. Tom Wolf, center, delivers his budget address for the 2016-17 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate, as the speaker of the state House of Representatives, state Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, left, and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, right, listen and applaud at the State Capitol in Harrisburg Pa., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)
February 10, 2016

Capitol recap: no plan for municipal pension aid in state budget

If aid's delayed, certain municipalities could face penalty fees. The amounts, in some cases, would be tens of millions of dollars.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.  (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)
February 3, 2016

Capitol recap: 10 days left for state agency responsible for municipal pension aid

"Regardless of where you come down on that fight, the work needs to get done." 

Police stand along Benjamin Franklin Parkway near City Hall while Pope Francis visited Philadelphia. Volatile markets could mean trouble for municipal pension funds and ultimately, tax payers would be on the hook to make up for low returns. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
January 27, 2016

Market slide at the start of 2016 could mean trouble for pension funds

Ultimately, tax payers would be on the hook to make up for low returns. 

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
January 21, 2016

Johnstown’s pension plan liability continues to grow

The city’s pension plans — for firefighters, police, non-uniformed city workers, and Bureau of Sewage employees — have a liability of $26 million.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman says delaying pension  payments
December 15, 2015

Pennsylvania House, Senate tussle over pension payments

Pennsylvania House and Senate Republicans are at odds over how much the commonwealth should pay into its retirement systems.

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has dismissed the objections of the Public School Employees' Retirement System to changes that reduce state payments to its pension funds. (AP file photo)
December 9, 2015

Pennsylvania's largest retirement system balks at Senate's pension payment collars

Pennsylvania's largest retirement system is slamming a state Senate-approved pension overhaul that would further reduce, or "collar," state payments into its pension funds.

The Commonwealth's facilities and maintenance staff set up a tree donated by the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers' Association on the front steps of the Capitol in Harrisburg. (Emily Previti/WITF)
November 25, 2015

Capitol recap: Proposed municipal pensions fix would allow skipping public bids

The exemption would apply to 98 percent of Pennsylvania's municipal retirement systems.

(Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
November 25, 2015

Gridlocked: municipal pension analysis won't happen without state budget

Pennsylvania lawmakers have asked for a closer look at how a pension bill would affect future local police and firefighters during retirement.

Gov. Tom Wolf's spokesman says only state — and not municipal — pension systems will change as part of budget compromise. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
November 19, 2015

Capitol recap: Lawmakers move on municipal pension reforms

Gov. Wolf's spokesman says only state — and not municipal — pension systems will change as part of budget compromise.

(Emily Previti/WITF)
October 13, 2015

Shamokin appoints pension review board

A new pension review board was appointed Monday night by Shamokin Mayor William Milbrand to address serious issues.

(AP Image)
August 27, 2015

Pa. Auditor General holds roundtable in Scranton on pension reforms

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale discussed pension reforms with local officials and business leaders Wednesday at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and came away with a new idea, he said.

Pennyslvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
June 30, 2015

Governor's task force releases recommendations to help distressed pension funds


It’s now up to the Governor and the legislature to consider turning these recommendations into laws.

Scranton Mayor William Courtright is calling for the city's pension funds to be moved to a state management system, the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
June 25, 2015

Scranton mayor calls for pension funds to be moved to state management system

Following a scathing report, Scranton’s mayor wants to transfer all of the city’s pension funds to the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System.  

Scranton has one of the most distressed pension funds in the state. A new report shows that improper procedures in offering double pension benefits to some retirees contributed to the poor state of the non-uniform fund. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
June 24, 2015

Scranton officials improperly doubled pension payments to city workers

New report says 'the transactions surrounding the doubling of pension payments has revealed a disregard for the applicable laws governing pension plans.' 

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray says switching future city hires, including safety workers, to a 401(k)-style plan will make retirement costs more manageable for local governments. (AP file photo)
June 9, 2015

GOP lawmakers endorse municipal pension changes in Pa.

A month after Republican lawmakers advanced a plan to end the traditional pension for new state workers, they've set their sights on doing the same for future municipal employees in Pennsylvania.

June 8, 2015

California pension initiative requires public vote on retirement benefits

For the third time in four years, advocates for altering public pensions have a plan they want to put to a statewide vote. 

But this time the proposal by pension-change advocates has a new twist: Pensions and other retirement benefits would automatically become a matter of ballot-box politics by requiring voter approval any time government officials sought to upgrade benefits.

A view of Harrisburg and the state capitol from City Island. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
June 5, 2015

Capitol recap: Pennsylvania municipal pensions overhaul outlined in new bill

 A measure just introduced in the state Senate hits nearly every point in the platform championed by local pension reform advocates.

Pennsylvania State Capitol. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
June 5, 2015 | The New York Times

Borrowing to replenish depleted pensions

Facing a shortfall of more than $50 billion in his state’s pensions, and with no simple solution at hand, Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania is proposing to issue $3 billion in bonds, despite the role that such bonds have already played in the fiscal woes of other places.

The Chicago skyline is seen from helicopters. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
June 2, 2015 | The Deal

Pension panic grips the heartland

The state of Illinois faces unfunded pension liabilities that one government commission in November put at $111.2 billion.

May 26, 2015

California confronts its daunting pension shortfalls

California residents attending the University of California got some good news this month when Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his $115 billion budget plan: they will not see tuition increases over the next two years.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
May 18, 2015

Wolf administration takes shot at Senate GOP pension bill

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration fired a new volley Monday against a Senate Republican bill to overhaul benefits in Pennsylvania's two big public employee pension systems.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
May 15, 2015

Wolf breaks silence on his ideas for fixing underfunded municipal pensions

Some experts say turning to pension bonds, which Wolf is suggesting for some cities, is risky, in general, and ill-timed.

May 13, 2015 | Chicago Sun Times

Moody's, citing pension crisis, downgrades Chicago's debt to junk status

Moody's Investor's Service on Tuesday dropped Chicago's bond rating two more notches — to junk status — turning up the heat on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to raise property taxes and on the Illinois General Assembly to approve a Chicago casino

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman says the GOP's pension bill's passage will start a negotiation with the House and the Wolf administration. (AP file photo)
May 12, 2015

Analysis: GOP pension plan would save Pa. billions, but cut benefits

Proposed changes to Pennsylvania's retirement systems would save the commonwealth $18 billion over 30 years, according to a fiscal analysis of the plan being fast-tracked in the state Senate.

Editors note: In the map, unfunded actuarial liabilities are listed as $0 for retirement systems projected to have more than enough money to pay pensions to retirees and vested workers.
May 11, 2015 | Mapping

Municipal pensions burden throughout Pennsylvania

Search the map to see a municipality’s pension liability, relative to population.

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, center left, speaks to members of the media after Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his budget address for the 2015-16 fiscal year. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
May 10, 2015

Uncharted waters ahead for Pa. Senate pension changes

The state Senate GOP's plan to change to Pennsylvania's pension system is a heavy political lift that remains untested in the Legislature.

Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, left, and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman disagree on a GOP plan for pension system changes. (AP file photo)
May 6, 2015

Senate GOP pension changes would hit current, future Pa. public workers

Republican leaders of Pennsylvania's Senate want current state and school employees to pay more toward their retirement to help shore up a severely underfunded system.

Pa. Capitol Building, Harrisburg. (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)
May 6, 2015

A one-man sit-in for pension reform in Harrisburg

Barry Shutt has a simple routine when he comes to the Pennsylvania Capitol. He heads for the cafeteria entrance, opens his folding chair next to a pillar, and sets up his sign.

Jim Kenney speaks briefly during a fundraiser at Yard's Brewing Company on Delaware Avenue. (Tracie Van Auken/For NewsWorks)
May 6, 2015

$31 million in pension bonus checks mailed out

Philadelphia’s severely underfunded pension fund mailed out $31 million in retiree bonuses on Friday.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa,  D-Allegheny, expects bipartisan cooperation on some kind of pension pact as they work on a state spending plan with the governor. (AP file photo)
May 4, 2015

Pa. GOP plans to unveil pension system overhaul plan

Pennsylvania's Senate Republicans plan to roll out a proposal to overhaul public pensions in early May, the first step toward making good on their promise to address pension debt before negotiating a commonwealth budget.

Top 10 Pennsylvania municipalities ranked by their pensions' unfunded actuarial liability per capita as of 2013. 
Source: Keystone Crossroads analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pennsylvania Public Employees Retirement Commission
May 1, 2015

Capitol recap: In a state with local underfunded pensions, not everywhere is equal

Public employee retirement funds are indeed worse off in urban areas, but there are a few things you should know.

April 28, 2015 | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia mayoral candidates ignore cities biggest issue: pensions

With less than a month before the May 19 primary, the six Democrats running for mayor have yet to talk about the $5.7 billion dark cloud that threatens to snuff out their campaign promises.

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks to the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors at their 2015 meeting in Hershey. (Emily Previti/WITF)
April 22, 2015

Suburban Pennsylvania leaders against combining local pensions

Hundreds of township supervisors are in Hershey this week for their annual meeting.

April 16, 2015

Capitol recap: lawmakers propose to stabilize the worst-funded city pension funds

 Think of it as the state's Act 47 recovery law for distressed communities - but for municipal pensions, specifically.

Scranton City Hall. The city’s non-uniform and police pension funds are expected to run out of money within three years; it’s firefighters' retirement fund, within two years after that. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
April 9, 2015

Capitol recap: how would pensioners be treated in a municipal bankruptcy?

 Short answer: it depends on the judge.

Annual costs for municipal pensions in Pennsylvania are growing faster than available state aid. (Data source: Pennsylvania Employee Retirement Commission)
April 2, 2015

Capitol recap: How does state aid for local pensions work, exactly?

 Pennsylvania is rare among the states for giving aid to municipal pensions, allocating nearly $250 million last year to 1,500 municipalities.

Shown is the Pennsylvania state capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
March 28, 2015

Senate GOP pulls from Corbett pension plan for ideas

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans, seeking a way to cut public pension costs immediately, think they might scale back retirement benefits to pre-2001 levels. But, like most old ideas, this one comes with baggage.

Members of the House Urban Affairs Committee met in Pittsburgh with local Council members and other stakeholders to talk about municipal pensions. (Irina Zhorov/Keystone Crossroads)
March 18, 2015

Local pensions need statewide solutions, lawmakers say


As state lawmakers look to pension reform, local leaders weigh in.

March 13, 2015

Capitol recap: million-dollar fix for (multi)billion-dollar pension problem?

Pennsylvania officials have dedicated lots of lip service to the problem of underfunded pensions, but not much time, money or brainpower to fixing it – at least, not specifically.

The Pittsburgh skyline is shrouded in fog as icy rain falls on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
March 5, 2015

City and state officials call for ‘common sense’ pension reform

Despite putting revenue from parking and the Rivers Casino into the pension fund, Pittsburgh’s pension problems aren’t getting any better.

The Public Employee Retirement Commission collects and analyzes pension data from Pennsylvania's 3,200-plus municipal retirement systems. PERC also administers their state aid and vets pension legislation. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
March 4, 2016

Wolf, Republicans strike temporary deal over Pa. pensions commission

With a court ruling months away, things can go back to normal at the small state agency for now — sort of.

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