A view of the Pennsylvania state capitol building and downtown Harrisburg, Pa. (Lindsay Lazarski/Keystone Crossroads)
June 17, 2016

Capitol recap: What about municipal pensions?

Local governments and police and firefighter departments' retirement systems aren't included in the bill that cleared the state House of Representatives this week.

Lancaster Central Market is in the city's Community Revitalization & Improvement Zone. The program lets participating cities keep some state taxes to fund redevelopment. (Emily Previti/WITF)
April 13, 2016

Capitol recap: CRIZ can work, but it’s failing right now, officials say

At a hearing in Harrisburg, more than two hours of testimony about the City Revitalization & Improvement Zone program revealed its problems and potential.

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks after he took the oath of office to become the 47th governor of Pennsylvania, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
April 5, 2016

Capitol recap: Bill would put PERC powers in the Independent Fiscal Office

Legislation dealing with pensions has, for decades, received a once-over by actuaries working for the Public Employee Retirement Commission, or PERC.

Sunbury, Penn., March 2016. (Emily Previti/WITF)
March 24, 2016

Capitol recap: Why Sunbury’s police scandal matters

Police problems in 10,000-person coal region city stem from policy lapses that aren't uncommon in Pennsylvania municipalities.

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." 

Pennsylvania is  home to about a quarter of the nation's municipal pensions and uses a paper-based system to track them. The Public Employee Retirement Commission monitors the Commonwealth's 3,200-plus retirement systems for local police, paid firefighters and other municipal government workers. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
January 19, 2016

Capitol recap: No money allocated for state agency handling pension aid to 1,000+ Pa municipalities

Local retirement systems in Pennsylvania get about a quarter billion dollars, combined, each year from the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC).

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.

Blast furnaces on the former Bethlehem Steel site, which has been transformed into a mixed-use development including Sands Casino and arts-focused SteelStacks.
(Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
October 19, 2015

Capitol recap: Should Pa. cities still covet a special economic development designation?

The state's economic development program in a select few cities has created some major competition and a little jealousy.

October 7, 2015

Capitol recap: Can we predict vulnerability to the state budget impasse?

 Counties rely on state and federal funding for as much as three-quarters of revenue.

August 31, 2015

Capitol recap: Pa. cities wait decades to get property values updated

Pennsylvania's property valuation system is, arguably, the least regulated in the country.

Downtown Harrisburg and the State Capitol.  (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
July 20, 2015

Capitol recap: Lawmakers say one change could push languishing bill to prevent municipal crises akin to Harrisburg

 Legislation introduced in May 2013 still hasn’t made it to floor vote.

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.

State Senate Local Government Committee Chairman John Eichelberger, R-Blair/Cumberland, and Minority Chairman Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin, with Rep. Mindy Fee, R-Lancaster, at a meeting in 2014. Eichelberger, Teplitz and state Sen.'s John Blake, D-Lackawanna, and Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, are sponsoring five bills aimed at better regulating local public debt. (Emily Previti/WITF)
February 27, 2015

Capitol recap: what Harrisburg’s parking situation means for the rest of Pennsylvania

Some state lawmakers want to prevent other cities from accumulating the degree of debt that ultimately increased parking costs in Pennsylvania’s capital.

eystone Crossroads analysis of data from county assessors, municipal finance and planning departments, Pennsylvania Economy League – Central Division; state Rep. Rob Freeman, D-Easton. Assessed value amounts shown increments of $100,000.
February 19, 2015

Capitol recap: Which Pa. cities are most affected by tax exemption?

 Keystone Crossroads crunched the numbers as state lawmakers advance a bill that could ultimately affect tax revenues.

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.

March 23, 2015

Capitol recap: payments in lieu of taxes to schools doubled over past two decades

Keystone Crossroads analyzed two decades of financial data starting in 1993 for school districts across the Commonwealth, focusing on payments in lieu of taxes by nonprofits - the subject of a statewide campaign by Pennsylvania's Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The state Senate Appropriation Committee focused on accountability for businesses that get tax breaks, and stabilizing municipal finance, during its budget hearing with the Department of Community & Economic Development.
March 27, 2015

Capitol recap: What state lawmakers want in Pennsylvania cities

The state Senate Appropriations Committee covered a lot of ground during its two-hour hearing on the Department of Community & Economic Development's budget.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Artwork covering one window of a blighted building on Market Street in Harrisburg, Pa. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)
July 10, 2015

Capitol recap: What's happening in Harrisburg beyond the budget that could affect Pa. cities?

State lawmakers have moved some blight and revitalization bills, although pensions and the Commonwealth’s next fiscal plan dominate discussions in Harrisburg.

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