Bizzarro: Senate Bill 1 offers progress on reforming public pensions

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, today supported legislation creating a new pension system for state workers and public school teachers hired after 2019.

“The legislation, Senate Bill 1, approved in the House today, is a modest but significant step toward fiscal solvency in Pennsylvania’s public pension plans,” said Bizzarro after the House passed the measure on a 143-53 vote. “The hybrid benefits plan will reduce the risk to taxpayers of future pension cost spikes.”

Bizzarro said the plan, already approved in the Senate, offers future public employees a choice among three retirement savings options -- two hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution options and a defined contribution retirement plan.

“The bill does not affect current or retired employees and exempts state police, corrections officers, and other hazardous duty personnel,” Bizzarro said. “The new retirement structure will be more sustainable and responsible while still providing retirement security.”

Bizzarro said the plan has been criticized in some quarters for not addressing the estimated $75 billion debt accrued by the state’s two pension plans, the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS).

“Certainly more work is needed on the debt issue, but Senate Bill 1 was never sold on that issue, but on reducing risks to taxpayers down the road,” Bizzarro said. “And, the measure approved today is expected to save up to $1.4 billion over the long term and reduce future risk to taxpayers by more than 50 percent.

“The legislation represents a significant, bipartisan compromise, supported by the governor, and worthy of support,” Bizzarro said.